Circulating ficolin-2 and ficolin-3 in normal pregnancy and pre-eclampsia

Clin Exp Immunol. 2012 Jul;169(1):49-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2012.04590.x.


Ficolins are soluble molecules of the innate immune system that recognize carbohydrate molecules on microbial pathogens, apoptotic and necrotic cells. They act through two distinct routes: initiating the lectin pathway of complement activation and mediating a primitive opsonophagocytosis. In this study, we measured plasma levels of ficolin-2 and ficolin-3 in 60 pre-eclamptic patients, 60 healthy pregnant women and 59 healthy non-pregnant women by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Circulating levels of complement activation products (C4d, C3a, SC5b9), angiogenic factors (soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1, placental growth factor) and markers of endothelial activation (von Willebrand factor antigen), endothelial injury (fibronectin) and trophoblast debris (cell-free fetal DNA) were also determined. Plasma levels of ficolin-2 were significantly lower in healthy pregnant than in healthy non-pregnant women, while ficolin-3 levels did not differ significantly between the two groups. Furthermore, pre-eclamptic patients had significantly lower ficolin-2 and ficolin-3 concentrations than healthy non-pregnant and pregnant women. In the pre-eclamptic group, plasma ficolin-2 levels showed a significant positive correlation with serum placental growth factor (PlGF) concentrations and significant inverse correlations with serum levels of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1), blood urea nitrogen and creatinine, serum lactate dehydrogenase activities, as well as with plasma VWF:antigen, fibronectin and cell-free fetal DNA concentrations. In conclusion, circulating levels of ficolin-2 are decreased in the third trimester of normal pregnancy. There is a further decrease in plasma ficolin-2 concentrations in pre-eclampsia, which might contribute to the development of the maternal syndrome of the disease through impaired removal of the trophoblast-derived material released into the maternal circulation by the hypoxic and oxidatively stressed pre-eclamptic placenta.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Complement Activation
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Fibronectins / blood
  • Glycoproteins / blood*
  • Humans
  • Lectins / blood*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Placenta Growth Factor
  • Pre-Eclampsia / blood*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / immunology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Proteins / blood
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1 / blood
  • von Willebrand Factor / analysis


  • Biomarkers
  • FCN3 protein, human
  • Fibronectins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Lectins
  • PGF protein, human
  • Pregnancy Proteins
  • ficolin
  • von Willebrand Factor
  • Placenta Growth Factor
  • Creatinine
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1