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Hypertension. 2013 Feb;61(2):480-7. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.201624. Epub 2013 Jan 14.

Aberrant synthesis, metabolism, and plasma accumulation of circulating estrogens and estrogen metabolites in preeclampsia implications for vascular dysfunction.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Perinatal Research Laboratories, Atrium B Meriter Hospital, 202 S. Park St, Madison, WI, USA.


Estrogens and estrogen metabolites have important functions in cardiovascular and other physiology, yet the patterns of estrogen synthesis, metabolism, and the individual plasma profile of estrogens and estrogen metabolites during human pregnancy as well as in preeclampsia remain undetermined. We performed liquid chromatography mass spectrometry on plasma samples from normotensive pregnant women (normP; n=8), women with mild (mPE; n=8), and severe (sPE; n = 8) preeclampsia at labor. Compared with normP, estrone was lower in sPE, whereas plasma level of estradiol-17β was significantly lower in women with mPE and sPE. Estriol was lower in sPE, but not in mPE. Although 2-hydroxyestrone was lower in mPE and sPE, 4-hydroxyestrone was high in sPE. 16-α-hydroxyestrone was higher in mPE, but not in sPE. 2-hydroxyestradiol in women with mPE and sPE were lower compared with normP. Compared with 2-methoxyestrone in normP, levels were lower in sPE. 3-methoxyestrone and 4-methoxyestrone were unchanged. 2-methoxyestradiol was lower in mPE and sPE; however, 4-methoxyestradiol was low only in sPE. Compared with normP, 16-keto-estradiol-17β levels were significantly higher in sPE, whereas 16-epi-estriol and 17-epi-estriol were lower in women with sPE. Our findings show that preeclampsia is characterized by aberrant synthesis, metabolism, and accumulation of estrogens and estrogen metabolites that are likely to be associated with alterations in vascular function. These results underscore the need to investigate the functional vascular and other physiology of estrogens and estrogen metabolites in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia.

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