• diabetes;
  • fetal growth;
  • pregnancy;
  • sE-selectin;
  • sVCAM-1

Diabet. Med. 28, 692–698 (2011)


Aims  Some authors consider the vascular endothelium to be a target organ in diabetes. However, there have only been a few studies of the function of the maternal endothelium during pregnancy in women with diabetes. We analysed the relationship between maternal vascular endothelial dysfunction and fetal growth in such pregnancies.

Methods  Markers of endothelial dysfunction (serum concentration of sE-selectin and sVCAM-1) were measured at admission (baseline) and before delivery in 97 women with pregestational diabetes and a singleton pregnancy,. After delivery, the group with pregestational diabetes was divided retrospectively according to neonatal birthweight into three groups—appropriate, small and large for gestational age— and the maternal variables were analysed in relation to birthweight.

Results  The baseline concentration of sE-selectin was significantly higher in the large-for-gestational-age group vs. the small-for-gestational-age group (median: 53.1 vs. 39.0 ng/ml, P < 0.05). The concentration of sVCAM-1 at baseline was significantly higher in the small-for-gestational-age vs. the appropriate- and large-for-gestational-age groups (median: 846.2 vs. 576.8 and 524.1 ng/ml, respectively; P < 0.01 and P < 0.001, respectively). The concentration of sE-selectin at baseline and gestational changes in the concentration of sVCAM-1 were related to birthweight. The baseline concentrations of sE-selectin and sVCAM-1 and the gestational change in sVCAM-1 concentration were predictive factors for large for gestational age (cut-off values: 45.0, 644.6 and 38.4 ng/ml; sensitivity: 67.7, 89.3 and 34.4%; specificity: 65.5, 39.7 and 85.5%, respectively).

Conclusions  Our study showed a relationship between maternal endothelial dysfunction and fetal growth disturbances during pregnancy in women with diabetes that was not associated with maternal metabolic control. Higher levels of maternal sE-selectin in early pregnancy were associated with increased risk of the large-for-gestational-age condition. High levels of maternal sVCAM-1 in early pregnancy were characteristic of gestation complicated by the small-for-gestational-age condition. Further studies in larger groups are warranted to determine whether markers of maternal endothelial dysfunction are of use in the prediction of abnormal birthweight (large or small for gestational age) in pregnant women with diabetes.