Mapping the theories of preeclampsia: the role of homocysteine.

Luciano Mignini, Pallavi Latthe, J Villar, Mark Kilby, G Carroli, Khalid Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

98 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: We conducted a systematic review to examine the hypothesized mechanism through which homocysteine could lead to preeclampsia. DATA SOURCES: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, BIOSIS, SciSearch, and bibliographies of primary and review articles, and we contacted experts. METHODS OF STUDY SELECTION: Of the 25 relevant primary articles, 8 studies measured total serum homocysteine concentrations before the clinical onset of preeclampsia (1,876 women), whereas 17 measured it afterward (1,773 women). Meta-analytic techniques were used to examine consistency, strength, temporality, dose-response, and plausibility of the disease mechanisms implicating folate, vitamin B(6), vitamin B(12), genetic polymorphisms, oxidative stress, and endothelial dysfunction in the pathway linking hyperhomocysteinemia to preeclampsia. TABULATION, INTEGRATION, AND RESULTS: Overall, there were higher serum homocysteine concentrations among pregnant women with preeclampsia than among those with uncomplicated pregnancies, but the results were heterogeneous (P = .12; I(2) = 38.8%). Among studies with temporality, the size of association was smaller than that among those without (weighted mean difference 0.68 mumol/L versus 3.36 mumol/L; P <.006). There was no dose-response relationship between homocysteine concentration and severity of preeclampsia. The mechanisms underlying hyperhomocysteinemia (folate and vitamin B(12) deficiency and genetic polymorphisms) were not found to be plausible, but markers of oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction were higher in hyperhomocysteinemia. CONCLUSION: Homocysteine concentrations are slightly increased in normotensive pregnancies that later develop preeclampsia and are considerably increased once preeclampsia is established. However, because of a lack of consistency in data, dose-response relationship, and biologic plausibility, the observed association cannot be considered causal from the current literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-25
Number of pages15
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2005


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