Pre-eclampsia: pathogenesis, novel diagnostics and therapies

Nat Rev Nephrol. 2019 May;15(5):275-289. doi: 10.1038/s41581-019-0119-6.


Pre-eclampsia is a complication of pregnancy that is associated with substantial maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. The disease presents with new-onset hypertension and often proteinuria in the mother, which can progress to multi-organ dysfunction, including hepatic, renal and cerebral disease, if the fetus and placenta are not delivered. Maternal endothelial dysfunction due to circulating factors of fetal origin from the placenta is a hallmark of pre-eclampsia. Risk factors for the disease include maternal comorbidities, such as chronic kidney disease, hypertension and obesity; a family history of pre-eclampsia, nulliparity or multiple pregnancies; and previous pre-eclampsia or intrauterine fetal growth restriction. In the past decade, the discovery and characterization of novel antiangiogenic pathways have been particularly impactful both in increasing understanding of the disease pathophysiology and in directing predictive and therapeutic efforts. In this Review, we discuss the pathogenic role of antiangiogenic proteins released by the placenta in the development of pre-eclampsia and review novel therapeutic strategies directed at restoring the angiogenic imbalance observed during pre-eclampsia. We also highlight other notable advances in the field, including the identification of long-term maternal and fetal risks conferred by pre-eclampsia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / diagnosis
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / etiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / metabolism
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Biomarkers