Classical Cardiovascular Risk Markers in Pregnancy and Associations to Uteroplacental Acute Atherosis

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Abstract

Uteroplacental acute atherosis (AA) is a pregnancy-specific arterial lesion resembling early stages of atherosclerosis. AA is frequent in preeclamptic pregnancies, which associate with increased long-term maternal risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. We hypothesized that AA in pregnant women associates with classical risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including hypertension, hyperlipidemia, glucose intolerance, elevated C-reactive protein, age, and body mass index. We included 237 women delivered by cesarean section (healthy pregnancies, n=94; preeclampsia, n=87; pregestational and gestational diabetes mellitus, n=39; diabetes mellitus with preeclampsia, n=17). They provided blood before delivery for biomarker analyses. AA was diagnosed by immunohistochemistry in uteroplacental (decidual) tissue collected after placental removal. Statistical analyses were performed with Mann-Whitney test. Levels of traditional cardiovascular markers were not associated with decidual AA within the groups of women with normotensive pregnancies, preeclampsia, diabetes mellitus, or diabetes mellitus superimposed with preeclampsia. However, the oldest patient age quartile (36–43 years old) with AA had significantly higher levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and apolipoprotein B (both P<0.01) than women of the same age without AA. AA was associated with elevated median prepregnancy/early pregnancy systolic blood pressure (P=0.01) in the total cohort, but as preeclampsia was strongly associated with this finding (P<0.01), this was likely caused by a large proportion of preeclamptic pregnancies in the AA group (62.7%). Our findings demonstrate that dyslipidemia associated with cardiovascular risk is a feature of uteroplacental AA in older women, not of AA in pregnancy in general.

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