Volume regulatory hormones and plasma volume in pregnant women with sickle cell disorder

J Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone Syst. 2016 Sep 27;17(3):1470320316670444. doi: 10.1177/1470320316670444. Print 2016 Jul.


Background: Sickle cell disease (haemoglobin SS (HbSS)) mainly affects those of West African origin and is associated with hypervolaemia. Plasma volume rises by up to 50% in normal pregnancy but was previously found to be paradoxically contracted in late sickle cell pregnancy. The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system is activated very early in human pregnancy to support the plasma volume expansion. We hypothesised that activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system would be blunted in pregnant women with sickle cell disease.

Materials and methods: We measured plasma volume and concentrations of plasma renin, angiotensinogen, aldosterone and other volume-related hormones in a cross-sectional study of pregnant and non-pregnant Nigerian women with HbSS or HbAA.

Results: Plasma volume was higher in non-pregnant HbSS than HbAA women, but had not risen by 16 weeks, unlike plasma volume in HbAA women. The concentration of plasma renin also rose significantly less by 16 weeks in HbSS; angiotensinogen and aldosterone concentrations increased.

Conclusions: The lower plasma renin concentration at 16 weeks with HbSS could be either primary or secondary to vasoconstriction related to inadequate vasodilator activity. The contracted plasma volume might then stimulate aldosterone synthesis by non-angiotensin II dependent stimulation. Studies of vasodilators such as nitric oxide, vasodilator eicosanoids or the PlGF/VEGF/sFlT-1 axis in pregnant HbSS and HbAA women will test this hypothesis.

Keywords: Sickle cell disease; plasma volume; pregnancy; renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS); sickle cell anaemia; volume regulatory hormones.