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Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1989 Aug;96(8):978-82.

Neutrophil activation in pregnancy-induced hypertension.

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University Department of Obstetrics, Centre for Reproductive Biology, Edinburgh.


Human neutrophil elastase may be a major mediator of vascular damage and could contribute to the vascular damage seen in women with pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH). Elevated plasma levels of this substance will reflect neutrophil activation in vivo. To determine neutrophil activation in PIH, we studied 30 normal non-pregnant women, 32 women with normal pregnancies, 19 with mild/moderate PIH and 16 with severe PIH between 28 and 39 weeks gestation. Plasma neutrophil elastase was measured by radioimmunoassay. There was a significantly higher concentration of plasma neutrophil elastase in both mild/moderate and severe PIH than in normotensive pregnancies and this may contribute to the vascular lesion associated with PIH. Concentrations were also significantly higher in normal pregnancy than in non-pregnant women which suggests that neutrophil activation and degranulation are increased in normal pregnancy.

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