Dyslipidemia and Risk of Preeclampsia: A Multiancestry Mendelian Randomization Study

Hypertension. 2023 May;80(5):1067-1076. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.122.20426. Epub 2023 Mar 8.


Background: Preeclampsia is a leading cause of maternal morbidity, and dyslipidemia has been associated with preeclampsia in observational studies. We use Mendelian randomization analyses to estimate the association between lipid levels, their pharmacological targets, and the risk of preeclampsia in 4 ancestry groups.

Methods: We extracted uncorrelated (R2<0.001) single-nucleotide polymorphisms strongly associated (P<5×10-8) with LDL-C (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), and triglycerides from genome-wide association studies of European, admixed African, Latino, and East Asian ancestry participants. Genetic associations with risk of preeclampsia were extracted from studies of the same ancestry groups. Inverse-variance weighted analyses were performed separately for each ancestry group before they were meta-analyzed. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to evaluate bias due to genetic pleiotropy, demography, and indirect genetic effects.

Results: The meta-analysis across 4 ancestry groups included 1.5 million subjects with lipid measurements, 7425 subjects with preeclampsia, and 239 290 without preeclampsia. Increasing HDL-C was associated with reduced risk of preeclampsia (odds ratio, 0.84 [95% CI, 0.74-0.94]; P=0.004; per SD increase in HDL-C), which was consistent across sensitivity analyses. We also observed cholesteryl ester transfer protein inhibition-a drug target that increases HDL-C-may have a protective effect. We observed no consistent effect of LDL-C or triglycerides on the risk of preeclampsia.

Conclusions: We observed a protective effect of elevated HDL-C on risk of preeclampsia. Our findings align with the lack of effect in trials of LDL-C modifying drugs but suggest that HDL-C may be a new target for screening and intervention.

Keywords: Mendelian randomization analysis; dyslipidemia; lipoprotein; preeclampsia; risk.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Cholesterol, HDL / genetics
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Dyslipidemias*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Pre-Eclampsia*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol, HDL