Glomerular endotheliosis in normal pregnancy and pre-eclampsia

BJOG. 2003 Sep;110(9):831-6.


Objective: To investigate the proportion of women with findings characteristic for pre-eclampsia, as opposed to renal disease, in a controlled study of hypertensive pregnant women undergoing antepartum renal biopsy.

Design: An observational prospective controlled study.

Setting: University Hospital of Lund, Sweden.

Sample: Thirty-six previously healthy women with hypertensive disease in pregnancy, consecutively admitted to the antenatal ward at onset of disease during a 20 month period and giving informed consent, as well as 12 voluntary healthy pregnant controls.

Methods: Renal biopsy samples were obtained from all participants and evaluated by light microscopy, electron microscopy and immunofluorescence techniques.

Main outcome measures: Presence and degree of glomerular endotheliosis.

Results: Glomerular endotheliosis was present in all women with pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension, and in 5 of the 12 controls, although significant differences in the degree of endotheliosis were found between the groups. Clinically undetected renal disease was not diagnosed in any of the women.

Conclusion: Glomerular endotheliosis was found in women with normal pregnancy as well as in both non-proteinuric and proteinuric hypertension and is consequently not, as earlier believed, pathognomonic for pre-eclampsia. The transition between normal term pregnancy, gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia appears to be a continuous process, perhaps of increasing adaptation to pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia may be the extreme of the adaptational process, rather than a separate abnormal condition. Clinically undetected renal disease could be a rare cause of hypertension in pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy / methods
  • Endothelium, Vascular
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology*
  • Kidney Glomerulus / pathology*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Pre-Eclampsia / pathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies