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Increased plasma levels of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide in pre-eclampsia


Nicolai Holst, M.D.


Objective— To investigate the plasma vasoactive peptide (VIP) levels in pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia.

Design— A prospective clinical study.

Setting— University Department of Obstetrics, Tromso, Norway.

Subjects— 18 women with untreated gestational proteinuric hypertension between 32 and 40 weeks gestation (13 primigravid) and 8 women with normal pregnancies of similar gestational age.

Interventions— Fasting blood samples on two occasions, 10 min apart.

Main outcome measures— Plasma VIP measured by radioimmunoassay.

Results— Mean maternal plasma VIP was 13–9 (SEM 1–7) pmol/l in those with pre-eclampsia and 4–4 (SEM 0–5) pmol/l in normal pregnancies (P<0.0001).

Conclusion— The increased levels of VIP in pre-eclampsia may represent a powerful compensatory mechanism to restore vascular perfusion of various organs, including the uterus and placenta.