Hyperuricemia and xanthine oxidase in preeclampsia, revisited

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1996 Jan;174(1 Pt 1):288-91. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(96)70410-6.


Hyperuricemia is associated with the severity of preeclampsia and with fetal outcome. Traditionally the high uric acid concentration in preeclampsia has been attributed soley to renal dysfunction. Preeclampsia is also characterized by increased free radical formation and elevated oxidative stress. Xanthine dehydrogenase/oxidase produces uric acid. Xanthine dehydrogenase/oxidase is present as two isoforms in vivo. Uric acid production is coupled with formation of reactive oxygen species when the enzyme is in the oxidase form. Several factors can increase the holoenzyme activity and the conversion of xanthine dehydrogenase/oxidase to its oxidase form. These factors include hypoxia-reperfusion, cytokines, and increased substrate availability (xanthine and hypoxanthine). Preeclampsia is characterized by hyperuricemia and signs of increased formation of reactive oxygen species and decreased levels of antioxidants. Preeclampsia is also characterized by shallow implantation, producing a relatively hypoxic maternal-fetal interface, and increased turnover of trophoblast tissue, which can result in higher xanthine and hypoxanthine concentrations and higher levels of circulating cytokines. These mechanisms can lead to increased production of uric acid and free radicals and contribute to the hyperuricemia and increased oxidative stress present in preeclampsia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Pre-Eclampsia / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Uric Acid / blood*
  • Uric Acid / metabolism
  • Xanthine Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Xanthine Oxidase / metabolism*


  • Uric Acid
  • Xanthine Dehydrogenase
  • Xanthine Oxidase