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J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2010 Jul;23(7):646-57. doi: 10.3109/14767050903301009.

Preeclampsia and pregnancies with small-for-gestational age neonates have different profiles of complement split products.

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  • 1Perinatology Research Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH/DHHS, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.



The activation of the complement system results in the generation of split products with pro-inflammatory properties. The objective of this study was to determine whether preeclampsia and small-for-gestational age (SGA) are associated with changes in the maternal plasma concentrations of anaphylatoxins C3a, C4a and C5a.


A cross-sectional study was conducted in the following groups: (a) normal pregnant women (n = 134); (b) women who delivered an SGA neonate (n = 53); (c) preeclampsia with (n = 52) and without SGA (n = 54). Maternal plasma anaphylatoxin concentrations were determined by enzyme-linked immunoassay.


(1) Women with preeclampsia with or without SGA had a significantly higher median plasma C5a concentration than that of normal pregnant women and those with SGA alone (all P < 0.01); (2) women with SGA alone did not have an increase in plasma C5a concentration; (3) in contrast, the median maternal plasma concentration of C4a was lower in women with preeclampsia and SGA than that of those with a normal pregnancy (P = 0.001); (4) no changes in C3a were observed among the study groups.


Preeclampsia is associated with increased plasma concentration of C5a, regardless of the presence or absence of an SGA fetus. In contrast, there was no difference in the plasma C3a, C4a and C5a concentration in patients with SGA.

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