Investigating Maternal Brain Alterations in Preeclampsia: the Need for a Multidisciplinary Effort

Curr Hypertens Rep. 2019 Aug 2;21(9):72. doi: 10.1007/s11906-019-0977-0.


Purpose of review: To provide insight into the mechanisms underlying cerebral pathophysiology and to highlight possible methods for evaluation, screening, and surveillance of cerebral complications in preeclampsia.

Recent findings: The pathophysiology of eclampsia remains enigmatic. Animal studies show that the cerebral circulation in pregnancy and preeclampsia might be affected with increased permeability over the blood-brain barrier and altered cerebral blood flow due to impaired cerebral autoregulation. The increased blood pressure cannot be the only underlying cause of eclampsia and cerebral edema, since some cases of eclampsia arise without simultaneous hypertension. Findings from animal studies need to be confirmed in human tissues. Evaluation of brain alterations in preeclampsia and eclampsia is challenging and demands a multidisciplinary collaboration, since no single method can accurately and fully describe how preeclampsia affects the brain. Cerebral complications of preeclampsia are significant factors in maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide. No single method can accurately describe the full picture of how preeclampsia affects the brain vasculature and parenchyma. We recommend an international and multidisciplinary effort not only to overcome the issue of limited sample availability but also to optimize the quality of research.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Blood-brain barrier; Brain complications; Brain imaging; Eclampsia; Preclinical studies; Preeclampsia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Diseases / etiology
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Eclampsia / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy