Preeclampsia is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, encompassing significant short- and long-term health sequelae. Recently, there has been accumulating evidence for a role of the complement system in the pathogenesis of numerous complications of pregnancy, including preeclampsia. The present cross-sectional study compared the plasma concentrations of complement factors C3a and C5a between normotensive pregnancies and pregnancies complicated with either preeclampsia or gestational hypertension alone. We found that maternal plasma C5a concentration was significantly higher in preeclamptic pregnancy than in pregnancy affected by gestational hypertension alone or normotensive pregnancy. Umbilical cord plasma C5a concentrations were also higher in pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia compared to gestational hypertension or normotensive pregnancy. Maternal and cord plasma C5a concentrations were significantly correlated, suggesting that C5a can freely diffuse between maternal and fetal circulation. There were no significant differences in C3a concentrations in maternal or cord plasma between any groups. These results support the hypothesis that C5a may play a role in preeclampsia, but not in gestational hypertension.
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