Placental protein 13 (galectin-13) has decreased placental expression but increased shedding and maternal serum concentrations in patients presenting with preterm pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome

Virchows Arch. 2008 Oct;453(4):387-400. doi: 10.1007/s00428-008-0658-x. Epub 2008 Sep 13.


Placental protein 13 (PP13) is a galectin expressed by the syncytiotrophoblast. Women who subsequently develop preterm pre-eclampsia have low first trimester maternal serum PP13 concentrations. This study revealed that third trimester maternal serum PP13 concentration increased with gestational age in normal pregnancies (p < 0.0001), and it was significantly higher in women presenting with preterm pre-eclampsia (p = 0.02) and hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count (HELLP) syndrome (p = 0.01) than in preterm controls. Conversely, placental PP13 mRNA (p = 0.03) and protein, as well as cytoplasmic PP13 staining of the syncytiotrophoblast (p < 0.05) was decreased in these pathological pregnancies compared to controls. No differences in placental expression and serum concentrations of PP13 were found at term between patients with pre-eclampsia and control women. In contrast, the immunoreactivity of the syncytiotrophoblast microvillous membrane was stronger in both term and preterm pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome than in controls. Moreover, large syncytial cytoplasm protrusions, membrane blebs and shed microparticles strongly stained for PP13 in pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. In conclusion, parallel to its decreased placental expression, an augmented membrane shedding of PP13 contributes to the increased third trimester maternal serum PP13 concentrations in women with preterm pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Galectins / blood*
  • Galectins / metabolism
  • HELLP Syndrome / blood*
  • Humans
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Placenta / pathology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / blood*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Proteins / blood*
  • Pregnancy Proteins / metabolism
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism


  • Galectins
  • LGALS13 protein, human
  • Pregnancy Proteins