Normal pregnancy and preeclampsia both produce inflammatory changes in peripheral blood leukocytes akin to those of sepsis.
Sacks GP., Studena K., Sargent K., Redman CW.
OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to seek evidence for circulating leukocyte activation in preeclampsia. STUDY DESIGN: Whole blood flow cytometric techniques were used to analyze surface markers of activation (CD11b, CD14, CD23, CD49d, CD62L, CD64, CD66b, HLA-DR) and intracellular reactive oxygen species. Samples were taken from 21 women with preeclampsia, 21 matched normal pregnant women, 21 healthy nonpregnant controls, and 6 nonpregnant patients with septicemia. Ten preeclamptic cases were followed up 6 weeks post partum. RESULTS: The leukocytes of healthy pregnant women differed substantially and significantly from those of nonpregnant women (increased CD11b, CD14, and CD64 and increased intracellular reactive oxygen species). In preeclampsia there was, in addition to these changes, reduced expression of L-selectin and further increases in intracellular reactive oxygen species. The changes found in normal pregnancy and preeclampsia were similar, but not identical, to those found in sepsis. CONCLUSIONS: Normal third-trimester pregnancy is characterized by remarkable activation of peripheral blood leukocytes, which is further increased in preeclampsia.