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In pre-eclampsia, poor placentation causes both oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum stress of the placenta. It is believed placental hypoxia stimulates excessive production of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 (sFlt-1), which binds and deactivates circulating vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). When maternal endothelium is deprived of VEGF it becomes dysfunctional hence leading to the clinical syndrome of the mother. In this paper the previous claim that poor placentation may predispose more to placental oxidative stress than hypoxia is reiterated. We show why pre-eclampsia is not only an endothelial disease, but also a disorder of systemic inflammation. We question that hypoxia is the only or indeed the main stimulus to release of sFlt-1; and emphasise the role of inflammatory mechanisms. Hypoxia cannot be assumed simply because hypoxia-inducible transcription factors (HIF) are upregulated. Concurrent assessments of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB), a transcription factor for inflammatory responses are desirable to obtain a more complete picture. We point out that the pre-eclampsia placenta is the source of bioactive circulating factors other than sFlt-1 in concentrations that are much higher than in normal pregnancy. These may also contribute to the final inflammatory syndrome. We propose a modified version of the two-stage model for pre-eclampsia.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date



30 Suppl A


S38 - S42


Acute-Phase Reaction, Antigens, CD, Endoglin, Endothelium, Female, Humans, Hypoxia, Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, Placenta, Pre-Eclampsia, Pregnancy, Receptors, Cell Surface, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1