, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 333-340,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 08 Mar 2012

The elevation in circulating anti-angiogenic factors is independent of markers of neutrophil activation in preeclampsia



Severe preeclampsia is associated with increased neutrophil activation and elevated serum soluble endoglin (sEng) and soluble Flt-1 (sFlt-1) in the maternal circulation. To dissect the contribution of systemic inflammation and anti-angiogenic factors in preeclampsia, we investigated the relationships between the circulating markers of neutrophil activation and anti-angiogenic factors in severe preeclampsia or systemic inflammatory state during pregnancy.

Methods and results

Serum sEng, sFlt-1, placenta growth factor, interleukin-6 (IL-6), calprotectin, and plasma α-defensins concentrations were measured by ELISA in 88 women of similar gestational age stratified as: severe preeclampsia (sPE, n = 45), maternal systemic inflammatory response (SIR, n = 16) secondary to chorioamnionitis, pyelonephritis or appendicitis; and normotensive controls (CRL, n = 27). Neutrophil activation occurred in sPE and SIR, as α-defensins and calprotectin concentrations were two-fold higher in both groups compared to CRL (P < 0.05 for each). IL-6 concentrations were highest in SIR (P < 0.001), but were higher in sPE than in CRL (P < 0.01). sFlt-1 (P < 0.001) and sEng (P < 0.001) were ≈20-fold higher in sPE compared to CRL, but were not elevated in SIR. In women with sPE, anti-angiogenic factors were not correlated with markers of neutrophil activation (α-defensins, calprotectin) or inflammation (IL-6).


Increased systemic inflammation in sPE and SIR does not correlate with increased anti-angiogenic factors, which were specifically elevated in sPE indicating that excessive systemic inflammation is unlikely to be the main contributor to severe preeclampsia.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10456-012-9273-1.