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Objective To measure auto-antibodies against oxidatively modified low density lipoprotein (LDL) in pre-eclamptic pregnancies using two different techniques.

Design Clinical study comparing pre-eclamptic and normal pregnancies.

Setting Tampere University Hospital, Finland.

Population Twenty-one primigravidae with pre-eclampsia and 13 healthy, normotensive primigravidae as controls.

Methods The serum titers of antibodies against both malondialdehyde-modified and copper-oxidised LDL (MDA-LDL and copper-ox LDL) were analysed and related to parameters reflecting the severity of pre-eclampsia.

Results There was a positive correlation (r= 0.58) between antibodies against MDA-LDL and copper-ox LDL in women with pre-eclampsia but not in healthy pregnant controls. The antibody levels against copper-ox LDL, but not against MDA-LDL, were higher in women with pre-eclampsia than in women with a normal pregnancy (P < 0.01). While the antibody titers against copper-ox LDL did not correlate with any parameter reflecting the severity of pre-eclampsia, those against MDA-LDL showed a positive correlation with the level of diastolic blood pressure (r= 0.54) and a negative correlation with platelet count (r= 461) in women with pre-eclampsia.

Conclusions There are increased titers of serum autoantibodies against copper-oxidised LDL in pre-eclampsia, which may reflect enhanced lipid peroxidation involving circulating lipoproteins.