Adrenomedullin, a New Vasoactive Peptide, Is Increased in Preeclampsia

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Adrenomedullin is a novel peptide that elicits a long-lasting vasorelaxant activity. Recently, we found high concentrations of adrenomedullin in maternal and umbilical cord plasma and in amniotic fluid in full-term human pregnancy, indicating a role of this peptide during gestation. To investigate the possibility that adrenomedullin is involved in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia, we measured its concentration in maternal and fetoplacental compartments. We studied 12 normotensive nonpregnant women, 13 hypertensive nonpregnant subjects, 29 patients with preeclampsia, and 30 normotensive pregnant women. In all patients, plasma was collected from the cubital vein, and amniotic fluid samples were obtained by transabdominal amniocentesis or at elective cesarean section. Plasma samples from umbilical vein and placental tissues were collected at delivery. Adrenomedullin was assayed on plasma and amniotic fluid samples using a specific radioimmunoassay, and its localization and distribution on placental sections was determined by immunohistochemistry. Adrenomedullin concentrations were higher in hypertensive than in normotensive nonpregnant patients. Pregnant women had higher adrenomedullin levels than nonpregnant subjects, although maternal plasma adrenomedullin concentrations did not differ between normal pregnant and preeclamptic women. Preeclamptic patients showed higher concentrations (P<0.01) than normotensive pregnant women of adrenomedullin in amniotic fluid (252 +/- 29 versus 112 +/- 10 fmol/[micro sign]mol creatinine) and umbilical vein plasma (18.1 +/- 2.1 versus 8.5 +/- 1.1 fmol/mL). Increased local production of adrenomedullin is associated with preeclampsia. The fetus seems to be responsible for the higher levels of this hormone. Increased adrenomedullin concentrations may be necessary to maintain placental vascular resistance and/or fetal circulation at a physiological level. (Hypertension. 1998;32:758-763.)

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