Oxidative Stress in the Pathogenesis of Preeclampsia


  • Carl A. Hubel

    1. Magee-Womens Research Institute and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213
    Search for more papers by this author


The etiology and pathogenesis of the pregnancy syndrome preeclampsia remain poorly understood. There is substantial evidence to suggest that the diverse manifestations of preeclampsia, including altered vascular reactivity, vasospasm, and discrete pathology in many organ systems, are derived from pathologic changes within the maternal vascular endothelium. With the theme of endothelial cell dysfunction emphasized, this review focuses on the role of oxidative stress (an imbalance favoring oxidant over antioxidant forces) in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia. Data are summarized regarding 1) the role of the placenta in preeclampsia; 2) evidence and mechanisms of oxidative stress in the preeclampsia placenta; 3) markers of oxidative stress in the maternal circulation; and 4) the potential role of maternal dyslipidemia in generation of oxidative stress. A recurrent theme is that free radical reactions, promoted by “cross-talk” between the diseased placenta and maternal dyslipidemia, promote a vicious cycle of events that make cause and effect difficult to distinguish but likely contribute to the progression of preeclampsia.