Aetiology and physiopathology of preeclampsia and related forms

S Lorquet, C Pequeux, C Munaut, J M Foidart
Acta Clinica Belgica 2010, 65 (4): 237-41
Preeclampsia, a pregnancy-specific syndrome characterized by hypertension, proteinuria and oedema, resolves on placental delivery. Its pathogenesis is thought to be associated to a hypoxic placenta. Placental hypoxia is responsible for the maternal vascular dysfunction via the increased placental release of anti-angiogenic factors such as soluble flt1 and endoglin. These soluble receptors bind VEGF, PLGF and TGFbeta1 and 3 in the maternal circulation, causing endothelial dysfunction in many maternal tissues. Despite these recent and important new molecular findings, it is important to consider that normal pregnancy is also characterized by systemic inflammation, oxidative stress and alterations in levels of angiogenic factors and vascular reactivity. Both the placenta and maternal vasculatures are major sources of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species which can produce powerful pro-oxidants that covalently modify proteins and alter vascular function in preeclampsia. Finally, the recent demonstration of activating auto-antibodies to the Angiotensin 1 receptor that experimentally play a major pathogenic role in preeclampsia further indicates the pleiotropism of aetiologies of this condition.

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