Preeclampsia is associated with a serum factor cytotoxic to human endothelial cells

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1988 Oct;159(4):908-14. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(88)80169-8.


Preeclampsia occurs in 7% to 10% of pregnancies and is a leading cause of morbidity for mothers and their infants. Intensive investigation has failed to reveal the cause of the multiple organ dysfunction characteristic of this disorder, which abates completely with delivery. However, several observations suggest that endothelial cell dysfunction is a central pathophysiologic event. We report that serum from preeclamptic women is cytotoxic to endothelial cells in vitro. Consistent with the reversal of the clinical condition after delivery, cytotoxic activity in serum of preeclamptic women is reduced after 24 to 48 hours post partum. In contrast, cytotoxic activity of serum from normal pregnant women increases after delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / analysis
  • Chromium Radioisotopes
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Labor, Obstetric / blood
  • Magnesium Sulfate / pharmacology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / blood*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / immunology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Time Factors
  • Umbilical Veins / pathology


  • Antibodies
  • Chromium Radioisotopes
  • Magnesium Sulfate