Increased secretory sphingomyelinase activity in the first trimester of pregnancy in women later developing preeclampsia: a nested case-control study

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Abstract

The pathogenic basis of abnormal placentation and dysfunction in preeclampsia (PE) is highly complex and incompletely understood. Secretory sphyngomyelinase activity (S-ASM) was analyzed in plasma samples from 158 pregnant women developing PE and 112 healthy pregnant controls. Serum PlGF, sFlt-1, s-Endoglin and sVCAM were measured. Results showed S-ASM activity to be higher in women who later developed PE than in those with uncomplicated pregnancies (40.6% and 28.8% higher in the late- and early-onset groups, respectively). Plasma S-ASM activity correlated significantly with circulating markers of endothelial damage in the late-PE group (endoglin and sVCAM-1), with plasma cholesterol and total lipid levels. However, these significant associations were not observed in the early-PE or control groups. This work provides the first evidence of significantly elevated circulating S-ASM activity in the first trimester of pregnancy in women who go on to develop PE; thus, it may be deduced that the circulating form of ASM is biologically active in PE and could contribute to promoting endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular programming. Plasma S-ASM measurement may have clinical relevance as a further potential biomarker contributing to the earliest identification of women at risk of developing preeclampsia.

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