Current Hypertension Reports

, 21:72 | Cite as

Investigating Maternal Brain Alterations in Preeclampsia: the Need for a Multidisciplinary Effort

  • Lina BergmanEmail author
  • Pablo Torres-Vergara
  • Jeffrey Penny
  • Johan Wikström
  • Maria Nelander
  • Jose Leon
  • Mary Tolcher
  • James M. Roberts
  • Anna-Karin Wikström
  • Carlos EscuderoEmail author
Preeclampsia (V Garovic, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Preeclampsia


Purpose of Review

To provide insight into the mechanisms underlying cerebral pathophysiology and to highlight possible methods for evaluation, screening, and surveillance of cerebral complications in preeclampsia.

Recent Findings

The pathophysiology of eclampsia remains enigmatic. Animal studies show that the cerebral circulation in pregnancy and preeclampsia might be affected with increased permeability over the blood-brain barrier and altered cerebral blood flow due to impaired cerebral autoregulation. The increased blood pressure cannot be the only underlying cause of eclampsia and cerebral edema, since some cases of eclampsia arise without simultaneous hypertension. Findings from animal studies need to be confirmed in human tissues. Evaluation of brain alterations in preeclampsia and eclampsia is challenging and demands a multidisciplinary collaboration, since no single method can accurately and fully describe how preeclampsia affects the brain.


Cerebral complications of preeclampsia are significant factors in maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide. No single method can accurately describe the full picture of how preeclampsia affects the brain vasculature and parenchyma. We recommend an international and multidisciplinary effort not only to overcome the issue of limited sample availability but also to optimize the quality of research.


Preeclampsia Eclampsia Brain complications Blood-brain barrier Preclinical studies Biomarkers Brain imaging 



Blood-brain barrier


Blood pressure


Cerebral blood flow


Cerebral vascular resistance


Cerebrospinal fluid


Gamma amino butyric acid


Human pluripotent stem cells


Junctional adhesion molecules




Magnesium sulfate


Magnetic resonance imaging


Magnetic resonance spectroscopy


Magnetic resonance spectroscopy focused on hydrogen metabolites


Magnetic resonance spectroscopy focused on phosphorus metabolites


Neurofilament light chain


Neuron-specific enolase




Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome


Reduced uteroplacental perfusion pressure


Reduced uteroplacental perfusion pressure plus high cholesterol diet


S100 calcium-binding protein B


Transendothelial electrical resistance


White matter lesions



The authors would like to thank Emily Gatu for her editorial assistance and the researchers belonging to GRIVAS health for their valuable input.

Funding Disclose

This manuscript was supported by Conicyt grant REDI170373. CE is supported by DIUBB 184309 4/R.

Authors’ Roles

CE and LB: designed and wrote the manuscript. All co-authors included their respective sections according to expertise. JMR, AKW, and JP contributed to the writing of the manuscript and provided a critical revision of its contents. All co-authors approved the final version of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

11906_2019_977_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 28 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Women’s and Children’s HealthUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Center for Clinical Research DalarnaFalunSweden
  3. 3.Pharmacy Department, Faculty of PharmacyUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  4. 4.Group of Research and Innovation in Vascular Health (GRIVAS Health)ChillánChile
  5. 5.Division of Pharmacy and Optometry, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and HealthUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  6. 6.Department of RadiologyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  7. 7.Vascular Physiology Laboratory, Group of Investigation in Tumor Angiogenesis, (LFV-GIANT), Department of Basic Sciences, Faculty of SciencesUniversidad del Bío-BíoChillánChile
  8. 8.Magee Womens Research Institute, Dept of Obstetrics Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Epidemiology and Clinical and Translational ResearchUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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