Objective: The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the clinical significance of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) for endothelial cell activation in pre-eclampsia. Therefore, we determined and compared the correlations between these cytokines and circulating adhesion molecules in the sera of pre-eclamptic pregnant women, normotensive pregnant women and nonpregnant women.
Methods: The soluble adhesion molecules VCAM-1, ICAM-1, E-selectin, and P-selectin were determined in the serum of 38 pre-eclamptic pregnant women and 40 normotensive pregnant and nonpregnant controls using ELISA-techniques. We correlated these serum concentrations with the serum levels of TNF-alpha and IL-1beta, respectively, also determined by ELISA.
Results: Elevated serum levels of VCAM-1 and E-selectin could be detected in pre-eclamptic patients, with and without HELLP-syndrome. In contrast, no increased serum concentration of ICAM-1, P-selectin, TNF-alpha and IL-1beta were found in these patients. While significant correlation between VCAM-1 and E-selectin could be determined (r=0.604; p<0.001) no unambiguous correlations, however, were found between TNF-alpha or between IL-1beta and the examined adhesion molecules or the selectins.
Conclusions: In contrast to in vitro investigations on cultured umbilical vein endothelium, our experimental results indicate that the cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-1beta can not explain endothelial cell activation, and that their measurement in serum is not useful for the detection of pre-eclampsia.