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Pre-eclampsia is a common and potentially dangerous disorder of human pregnancy. The maternal syndrome of hypertension, proteinuria and oedema is part of a severe systemic inflammatory response that includes leukocyte and endothelial cell activation. Although the origins of pre-eclampsia remain unclear, a major cause is the failure to develop an adequate blood supply to the placenta, leading to placental oxidative stress. This results in the excess release of placental factors, such as syncytiotrophoblast debris or soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1), the soluble receptor for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), into the maternal circulation, where they trigger an inflammatory response and endothelial dysfunction. Alternatively, pre-eclampsia can develop in the presence of a normal placenta in women that are susceptible to systemic inflammation, such as with chronic cardiovascular disease or diabetes. While clinical management of pre-eclampsia does not currently include anti-inflammatory agents, current research is focusing on ways to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

Original publication




Journal article


Semin Fetal Neonatal Med

Publication Date





309 - 316


Endothelium, Female, Humans, Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, Placenta, Placental Circulation, Pre-Eclampsia, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Outcome