Obesity and preeclampsia: The potential role of inflammation

M. Wolf, E. Kettyle, L. Sandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

216 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Systemic inflammation might contribute to the pathogenesis of preeclampsia. In addition, the association between obesity and inflammation in preeclampsia has not been examined in detail. We determined whether first-trimester elevation of serum C-reactive protein, an index of systemic inflammation, was associated with preeclampsia. METHODS: We conducted a prospective, nested case-control study among women enrolled in the Massachusetts General Hospital Obstetrical Maternal Study cohort. High-resolution C-reactive protein assays were performed on first-trimester (11 ± 2 weeks' gestation) serum samples in 40 women in whom preeclampsia developed (blood pressure [BP] greater than 140/90 mmHg, and proteinuria, either 2+ or more by dipstick or greater than 300 mg per 24 hours), and in 80 matched controls. This sample size had greater than 80% power to detect a difference in C-reactive protein levels between cases and controls. We used nonparametric tests to compare C-reactive protein levels and conditional logistic regression to control for confounding variables. RESULTS: First-trimester C-reactive protein levels were significantly higher among women in whom preeclampsia subsequently developed compared with controls (4.6 compared with 2.3 mg/L, P =. 04). When women were subdivided into C-reactive protein quartiles, the odds ratio (OR) of being in the highest quartile of C-reactive protein was 3.2 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1, 9.3, P =. 02) among cases of preeclampsia compared with controls. When body mass index (BMI) was added to the multivariable model, the highest quartile of C-reactive protein was no longer associated with increased risk of preeclampsia (OR 1.1, 95% CI. 3, 4.3, P =. 94). In the same model without BMI, the highest quartile of C-reactive protein was associated with increased risk of preeclampsia (OR 3.5, 95% CI 1.3, 9.5, P =. 01). CONCLUSION: In women with preeclampsia, there was evidence of increased systemic inflammation in the first trimester. Inflammation might be part of a causal pathway through which obesity predisposes to preeclampsia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-762
Number of pages6
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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