Placental pathology in systemic lupus erythematosus: a prospective study

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1998 Jul;179(1):226-34. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(98)70277-7.


Objectives: Systemic lupus erythematosus and antiphospholipid antibody, often identified in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, are associated with poor pregnancy outcome. This study distinguishes between the effect of each of these factors on gestational outcome and placental pathologic conditions in pregnant patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Study design: Thirty-seven pregnancies and 40 placentas from 33 women with systemic lupus erythematosus were studied prospectively.

Results: Systemic lupus erythematosus alone, but not systemic lupus erythematosus activity, was associated with increased spontaneous abortions, preterm gestations, and fetal growth restriction. Placental correlates were ischemic-hypoxic change, decidual vasculopathy, decidual and fetal thrombi, chronic villitis, and decreased placental weight. Extensive infarction and fetal death were important antiphospholipid antibody-related findings.

Conclusions: Decidual vasculopathy/coagulopathy appears to mediate the antiphospholipid antibody-related and much of the systemic lupus erythematosus-related deleterious effect on the placenta and gestational outcome. The presence of antiphospholipid antibody largely, but not invariably, predicts fetal death. Antiphospholipid antibody-independent chronic villitis may represent a second mechanism of systemic lupus erythematosus-related change.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid / blood*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / pathology*
  • Placenta / pathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid