Plasma Cellular Fibronectin as a Measure of Endothelial Involvement in Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Retardation

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Our purpose was to determine the presence and degree of endothelial injury, by measuring plasma concentrations of cellular fibronectin, in pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia or intrauterine growth retardation.


A matched, nested, case-control study design was used. Plasma was collected prospectively from pregnant women throughout gestation. At least 12 weeks after delivery women with preeclampsia, both preeclampsia and intrauterine growth retardation, or intrauterine growth retardation alone were identified. Normal controls were matched to these patients by age, race, and gestational age. Stored plasma, which had been obtained in the third trimester, was assayed for cellular fibronectin by means of a sensitive and specific enzyme immunoassay. After an appropriate transformation of the data results were compared with one-way analysis of variance with Fisher's post hoc test.


Patients with preeclampsia (n = 18) had higher plasma cellular fibronectin concentrations than did control patients (n = 68) with median values of 2.8 and 1.4 micrograms/ml, respectively (p < 0.001, using transformed data). Patients with intrauterine growth retardation alone (n = 10) had 2.3 micrograms/ml cellular fibronectin, significantly higher than values of controls (p < 0.02 using transformed data) and significantly lower than those of patients with preeclampsia (p < 0.05 using transformed data).


Pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia had significantly higher plasma cellular fibronectin concentrations than did pregnancies with intrauterine growth retardation alone, which in turn had significantly higher plasma cellular fibronectin concentrations than did control pregnancies. We speculate that endothelial involvement in intrauterine growth retardation is confined to the uteroplacental circulation, whereas it is systemic in preeclampsia. (AM J OBSTET GYNECOL 1994;170:838-41.)

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