New markers for pre-eclampsia

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Nearly three thousand participants in MoBa who were pregnant in 2002-03 participated in the study, and gave blood samples in week 18 of pregnancy. Four per cent of these developed pre-eclampsia later in pregnancy. Pregnant women with abnormally high levels of kynurenic acid had a 3.6 times higher risk of pre-eclampsia compared to pregnant women with normal levels.

As expected, pre-eclampsia was more common among younger mothers and first-time mothers. The study also confirmed that mothers who were overweight before pregnancy (BMI> 25) were at increased risk. However, this study showed that those who were overweight and had high blood levels of kynurenic acid had a particularly increased risk of pre-eclampsia in late pregnancy.

Although kynurenic acid can be linked to inflammatory diseases, more research is needed to determine whether kynurenic acid itself is part of the cause of pre-eclampsia, which may provide new opportunities for prevention and treatment.

Facts about pre-eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia symptoms include elevated blood pressure (140/90) and protein in the urine after week 20 of pregnancy. The risk is highest in first pregnancies, in which between four and five per cent develop the condition. It usually occurs after week 34 of pregnancy, but more severe forms can arise earlier and cause other more serious complications (HELLP syndrome).


Obstetrics and Gynecology 2012; 119; 1243-50: Maternal Tryptophan and Kynurenine Pathway Metabolites and Risk of Preeclampsia. Roy M. Nilsen, Anne-Lise Bjørke-Monsen, Øivind Midttun, Ottar Nygård, Eva R. Pedersen, Arve Ulvik, Per Magnus, Håkon K. Gjessing, Stein Emil Vollset, and Per Magne Ueland.

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