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The maternal syndrome of pre-eclampsia is thought to result from endothelial cell damage caused by a circulating factor derived from the placenta. This study investigates the hypothesis that trophoblast deportation may be part of the process by which this factor enters the maternal circulation. The nature and incidence of trophoblast deportation was studied in uterine vein and peripheral blood taken from normal and pre-eclamptic women at caesarean section. Trophoblasts were enriched using immunomagnetic beads to deplete leucocytes and labelled with trophoblast-specific monoclonal antibodies. Syncytiotrophoblast, cytotrophoblast, cytotrophoblast clumps and anucleate trophoblast cells were found in uterine vein blood. Cytotrophoblast cells were found to be shed less frequently than syncytiotrophoblast and the majority were probably villous in origin. Trophoblasts were found in the uterine vein blood of normal pregnant women with higher levels in pre-eclampsia. However, trophoblasts were rarely found in the peripheral circulation. There was no correlation between trophoblast numbers and either the severity of the disease, the extent of placental pathology or the inhibitory effect of uterine and peripheral vein plasma on endothelial growth in vitro. Thus, it is speculated that increased trophoblast deportation in pre-eclampsia is secondary to the structural and functional changes occurring in the placenta, rather than directly linked with the circulating endothelial cell damaging factor in pre-eclampsia.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





531 - 539


Adult, Blood Cells, Cell Count, Cesarean Section, Endothelium, Vascular, Female, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Immunomagnetic Separation, Pre-Eclampsia, Pregnancy, Trophoblasts, Umbilical Veins, Uterus, Veins