Elevated soluble adhesion molecules in women with pre-eclampsia. Do cytokines like tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-1beta cause endothelial activation

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1999 Sep;86(1):35-41. doi: 10.1016/s0301-2115(99)00042-1.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / blood*
  • E-Selectin / blood
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • HELLP Syndrome / blood
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / blood
  • Interleukin-1 / analysis
  • Interleukin-1 / physiology*
  • P-Selectin / blood
  • Pre-Eclampsia / blood*
  • Pregnancy
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / blood


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • E-Selectin
  • Interleukin-1
  • P-Selectin
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1