Background: Pre-eclampsia (PE) is related to an impaired endothelial function. Endothelial dysfunction accounts for altered vascular reactivity, activation of the coagulation cascade and loss of vascular integrity. Impaired endothelial function originates from production of inflammatory and cytotoxic factors by the ischemic placenta and results in systemic oxidative stress (OS) and an altered bioavailability of nitric oxide (·NO). The free radical ·NO, is an endogenous endothelium-derived relaxing factor influencing endothelial function. In placental circulation, endothelial release of ·NO dilates the fetal placental vascular bed, ensuring feto-maternal exchange. The Endopreg study was designed to evaluate in vivo endothelial function and to quantify in vitro OS in normal and pre-eclamptic pregnancies. Methods/design: The study is divided into two arms, a prospective longitudinal study and a matched case control study. In the longitudinal study, pregnant patients ≥18 years old with a singleton pregnancy will be followed throughout pregnancy and until 6 months post-partum. In the case control study, cases with PE will be compared to matched normotensive pregnant women. Maternal blood concentration of superoxide (O2·) and placental concentration of ·NO will be determined using EPR (electron paramagnetic resonance). Endothelial function and arterial stiffness will be evaluated using respectively Peripheral Arterial Tonometry (PAT), Flow-Mediated Dilatation (FMD) and applanation tonometry. Placental expression of eNOS (endothelial NOS) will be determined using immune-histochemical staining. Target recruitment will be 110 patients for the longitudinal study and 90 patients in the case-control study. Discussion: The results of Endopreg will provide longitudinal information on in vivo endothelial function and in vitro OS during normal pregnancy and PE. Adoption of these vascular tests in clinical practice potentially predicts patients at risk to develop cardiovascular events later in life after PE pregnancies. ·NO, O2·- and eNOS measurements provide further inside in the pathophysiology of PE.

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Keywords Electron paramagnetic resonance, Endothelial (dys) function, Maternal outcome, Nitric oxide, Oxidative stress, Pre-eclampsia
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Journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Mannaerts, D. (Dominique), Faes, E. (Ellen), Gielis, J. (Jan), Van Craenenbroeck, E.M, Cos, P. (Paul), Spaanderman, M.E.A, … Jacquemyn, Y. (2018). Oxidative stress and endothelial function in normal pregnancy versus pre-eclampsia, a combined longitudinal and case control study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 18(1). doi:10.1186/s12884-018-1685-5