Highlights From the Society for Gynecologic Investigation 51st Annual Meeting

John F. Randolph, Jr, MD


April 18, 2003

In This Article

The Origins of Preeclampsia

Sandra Davidge of the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, presented the first President's Award Lecture outlining her research into the origins of preeclampsia. She believes that preeclampsia is a disease of placental origin from maternal influence caused by vascular endothelial dysfunction secondary to oxidative stress. She presented evidence supporting the nitrous oxide (NO) theory of preeclampsia, whereby several pathways, including decreased NO and increased angiotensin II, lead to a decrease in vasorelaxation and an increase in vasodilatation. These pathways suggest 2 possible therapeutic approaches to the prevention and treatment of preeclampsia: antioxidant therapy, including vitamins and exercise, and specific modulators of the pathways leading to the endothelial dysfunction.

Comment: The prospect of something as inexpensive, available, and simple as diet and exercise to decrease the incidence of preeclampsia is not only exciting but, on a public health level, it is comparable to the recognition that the intake of folic acid can reduce the risk of neural tube defects. These simple modalities in combination with targeted therapy may prove to be a common paradigm for preventing a number of diseases such as type II diabetes.


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