Severe dyslipidemia in pregnancy: The role of therapeutic apheresis

Transfus Apher Sci. 2015 Dec;53(3):283-7. doi: 10.1016/j.transci.2015.11.008. Epub 2015 Nov 25.


During pregnancy physiological changes occur in the lipid metabolism due to changing hormonal conditions: the LDL cholesterol (LDL-C), triglycerides (TG) and lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] increase throughout pregnancy. Common lipoprotein disorders are associated in pregnancy with two major clinical disorders: severe hypertriglyceridemia (SHTG) is a potent risk factor for development of acute pancreatitis and elevated cholesterol due to greater concentrations of LDL and remnant lipoproteins and reduced levels of HDL promote atherosclerosis. The combination of homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia (HoFH) and pregnancy can be a fatal condition. Therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) may be used for an urgent need of a fast and effective lowering of TG levels in order to prevent a severe pancreatitis episode or hypertriglyceridemia-induced complications during pregnancy. LDL apheresis can decrease LDL-C and prevent complications and can be considered in the treatment of pregnancies complicated by high LDL-C. These conditions are configured in patients with HeFH who were taking statins before pregnancy (selected cases), patients already receiving apheresis before pregnancy suffering from HoFH, patients suffering from hypertriglyceridemia due to familial hyperlipoproteinemia types I and V, and cases of hypertriglyceridemia secondary to diabetes.

Keywords: Acute pancreatitis; Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia (HoFH); LDL apheresis; Pregnancy; Severe hypertriglyceridemia (SHTG); Therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Component Removal / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type I / blood
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type I / therapy*
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type II / blood
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type II / therapy*
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type V / blood
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type V / therapy*
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / blood
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / therapy*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Plasma Exchange / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*


  • Lipids