Safety and pharmacokinetics of pravastatin used for the prevention of preeclampsia in high-risk pregnant women: a pilot randomized controlled trial

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Jun;214(6):720.e1-720.e17. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2015.12.038. Epub 2015 Dec 23.


Background: Preeclampsia complicates approximately 3-5% of pregnancies and remains a major cause of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. It shares pathogenic similarities with adult cardiovascular disease as well as many risk factors. Pravastatin, a hydrophilic, 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitor, has been shown in preclinical studies to reverse various pathophysiological pathways associated with preeclampsia, providing biological plausibility for its use for preeclampsia prevention. However, human trials are lacking.

Objective: As an initial step in evaluating the utility of pravastatin in preventing preeclampsia and after consultation with the US Food and Drug Administration, we undertook a pilot randomized controlled trial with the objective to determine pravastatin safety and pharmacokinetic parameters when used in pregnant women at high risk of preeclampsia.

Study design: We conducted a pilot, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of women with singleton, nonanomalous pregnancies at high risk for preeclampsia. Women between 12(0/7) and 16(6/7) weeks' gestation were assigned to daily pravastatin 10 mg or placebo orally until delivery. Primary outcomes were maternal-fetal safety and pharmacokinetic parameters of pravastatin during pregnancy. Secondary outcomes included rates of preeclampsia and preterm delivery, gestational age at delivery, birthweight, and maternal and cord blood lipid profile ( identifier NCT01717586).

Results: Ten women assigned to pravastatin and 10 to placebo completed the trial. There were no differences between the 2 groups in rates of study drug side effects, congenital anomalies, or other adverse or serious adverse events. There was no maternal, fetal, or neonatal death. Pravastatin renal clearance was significantly higher in pregnancy compared with postpartum. Four subjects in the placebo group developed preeclampsia compared with none in the pravastatin group. Although pravastatin reduced maternal cholesterol concentrations, umbilical cord cholesterol concentrations and infant birthweight were not different between the groups. The majority of umbilical cord and maternal pravastatin plasma concentrations at the time of delivery were below the lower limit of quantification of the assay. Pravastatin use was associated with a more favorable pregnancy angiogenic profile.

Conclusion: This study provides preliminary safety and pharmacokinetic data regarding the use of pravastatin for preventing preeclampsia in high-risk pregnant women. Although the data are preliminary, no identifiable safety risks were associated with pravastatin use in this cohort. This favorable risk-benefit analysis justifies using pravastatin in a larger clinical trial with dose escalation.

Keywords: angiogenic; pharmacokinetics; pravastatin; preeclampsia; safety.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / blood
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics*
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pravastatin / blood
  • Pravastatin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Pravastatin / therapeutic use*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy, High-Risk*


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Cholesterol
  • Pravastatin

Associated data