Circulating antiangiogenic factors and proinflammatory cytokines are implicated in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia. This study was performed to test the hypothesis that steroids modify the balance of inflammatory and proangiogenic and antiangiogenic factors that potentially contribute to the patient's evolving clinical state. Seventy singleton women, admitted for antenatal corticosteroid treatment, were enrolled prospectively. The study group consisted of 45 hypertensive women: chronic hypertension (n=6), severe preeclampsia (n=32), and superimposed preeclampsia (n=7). Normotensive women with shortened cervix (<2.5 cm) served as controls (n=25). Maternal blood samples of preeclampsia cases were obtained before steroids and then serially up until delivery. A clinical severity score was designed to clinically monitor disease progression. Serum levels of angiogenic factors (soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 [sFlt-1], placental growth factor [PlGF], soluble endoglin [sEng]), endothelin-1 (ET-1), and proinflammatory markers (IL-6, C-reactive protein [CRP]) were assessed before and after steroids. Soluble IL-2 receptor (sIL-2R) and total immunoglobulins (IgG) were measured as markers of T- and B-cell activation, respectively. Steroid treatment coincided with a transient improvement in clinical manifestations of preeclampsia. A significant decrease in IL-6 and CRP was observed although levels of sIL-2R and IgG remained unchanged. Antenatal corticosteroids did not influence the levels of angiogenic factors but ET-1 levels registered a short-lived increase poststeroids. Although a reduction in specific inflammatory mediators in response to antenatal steroids may account for the transient improvement in clinical signs of preeclampsia, inflammation is unlikely to be the major contributor to severe preeclampsia or useful for therapeutic targeting.
- Angiogenesis inducing agents