Maternal TLR4 and NOD2 gene variants, pro-inflammatory phenotype and susceptibility to early-onset preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome
Background: Altered maternal inflammatory responses play a role in the development of preeclampsia and the hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelets (HELLP) syndrome. We examined whether allelic variants of the innate immune receptors toli-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD2), that impair the inflammatory response to endotexin are related to preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. Methods and Finding: We determined five common mutations in TLR4 (D299G and T399I and NOD2 (R70W, G908R and L1007fs) in 340 primiparous women with a history of early-onset preeclampsia, of whom 177 women developed HELLP syndrome and in 113 women with a history of only uneventful pregnancies as controls. In addition, we assessed plasma levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1, fibrinogen and von Willebrand factor in a subset of 214 women included at least six months after delivery. After adjustment for maternal age and chronic hypertension, attenuating allelic variants of TLR4 were more common in women with a history of early onset preeclampsia than in controls (OR 2.9 [95% CI 1.2-6.7]). Highest frequencies for TLR4 variants were observed in women who developed HELLP syndrome (adjusted OR 4.1 [9.5% CI 1.7-9.8]). In addition, high levels of interleukin-6 and fibrinogen were associated with a history of early-onset preeclampsia. Combined positivity for any of the TLR4 and NOD2 allelic variants and high levels of interleukin-6 was 6.9-fold more common in women with a history of early-onset preeclampsia (95% CI 2.1-23.2) compared to controls. Conclusions: We observed an association of common TLR4 and NOD2 gene variants, and pro-inflammatory phenotype with a history of early-onset preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. These suggest involvement of the maternal innate immune system in severe hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.