Background: Preeclampsia is a disease hypothesized to originate from widespread endothelial dysfunction or damage. This study investigated whether circulating endothelial cells (CEC) can serve as a surrogate marker for disease severity in patients with preeclampsia, and if their number correlates to serum endothelial biomarkers for activation, dysfunction, or damage of those cells. Methods: Blood was drawn consecutively from 30 patients admitted with a diagnosis of severe preeclampsia. Thirty healthy, normotensive, patients matched for age, body mass index, and gestational age served as a control group. We determined the number of CEC and serum concentrations of biomarkers indicative of endothelial damage (thrombomodulin) and activation (E-selectin), and the antiangiogenic protein (endoglin), which reflects endothelial dysfunction. Results: Median CEC counts did not differ significantly between preeclamptic patients and the control group (median 5.3 vs. 3.5 CEC/mL, respectively) and were mostly within the normal range (i.e., <20 CEC/mL). However, serum concentrations of thrombomodulin (median 3.6 vs. 5.2 ng/mL; P = 0.006), E-selectin (median 32.0 vs. 42.9 ng/mL; P = 0.02), and especially endoglin (median 5.0 vs. 76.2 ng/mL; P < 0.0001) were significantly increased in severe preeclamptic patients. CEC counts did not correlate with any of the clinical parameters or routinely determined laboratory indices. Conclusion: Preeclampsia is characterized by endothelial dysfunction and activation rather than actual endothelial damage as characterized by increased CEC counts.

Additional Metadata
Keywords circulating endothelial cells, preeclampsia, vascular damage
Persistent URL,
Journal Cytometry Part B - Clinical Cytometry
Strijbos, M.H, Snijder, C.A, Kraan, J, Lamers, C.H.J, Gratama, J.W, & Duvekot, J.J. (2010). Levels of circulating endothelial cells in normotensive and severe preeclamptic pregnancies. Cytometry Part B - Clinical Cytometry, 78(6 B), 382–386. doi:10.1002/cyto.b.20537