VEGF and its soluble receptor VEGFR-2 in hypertensive disorders during pregnancy: the Indian scenario

G Rath, R Tripathi
Journal of Human Hypertension 2012, 26 (3): 196-204
Hypertensive disorders are the most common medical problem encountered during pregnancy due to defective angiogenesis during placental development. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one of the angiogenic growth factors that stimulates angiogenesis. The recombinant form of its soluble receptor VEGF receptor-2 (sVEGFR-2) has anti-angiogenic activity. However, there is a paucity of information on serum VEGF and sVEGFR-2 concentrations in different sub-groups of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy. In this cross-sectional study, we evaluated the concentrations and the diagnostic utility of VEGF and sVEGFR-2 in gestational hypertension (GH, n=90), pre-eclampsia (PE, n=180), eclampsia (n=90) and control (n=180) pregnancy at different gestations. VEGF levels were significantly higher in PE and eclamptic (median=19.53 pg ml(-1); 60.36 pg ml(-1), P=0.0001) groups as compared with the control ones (median=18 pg ml(-1)). But, the serum sVEGFR-2 levels were found to be significantly decreased from GH to eclampsia groups (median=5196; 3972 pg ml(-1)) as compared with control groups (median=7417 pg ml(-1)). As the gestation advanced, there was an inverse association in the serum concentrations of sVEGFR-2 among the control, GH, PE and eclampsia groups. At both 34 and >34 weeks of gestations, higher sensitivity and specificity were observed for sVEGFR-2 in differentiating GH (50.8, 50%; 76.6, 76.6%), PE (63, 63%; 90, 90%) and eclampsia (65, 66.6%; 90, 90%) from the control pregnancy. This upregulation of VEGF and downregulation of sVEGFR-2 concentrations in different study groups may be due to hypoxia and could be involved intimately in the pathogenesis of these disorders. This study may contribute in understanding etio-pathogenesis of different hypertensive disorders during pregnancy.

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