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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Intolerance to volume expansion: a theorized mechanism for the development of preeclampsia.

We present a theorized mechanism for the development of preeclampsia, suggesting that one important underlying pathophysiologic mechanism is intolerance to volume expansion. The stage is set for this intolerance by chronic volume constriction, which leads to a requirement for increased basal peripheral vasoconstrictor tone to maintain blood pressure and allow for continued perfusion of the upright hominid head. In pregnancy, volume expansion signaled by the placenta cannot be accommodated by the constricted vascular system. The inability of the normally adaptive endothelial vasodilatory mechanisms to overcome the chronic vasoconstrictor tone leads to endothelial damage, exacerbation of vasoconstriction, and clinical hypertension. Disease resolution, characterized by diuresis, occurs with the elimination of the placenta-derived drive to retain volume. The reason preeclampsia does not recur uniformly with subsequent pregnancy is permanent restructuring of the maternal cardiovascular system with pregnancy that allows for greater plasma volume expansion in future gestations.[1]


  1. Intolerance to volume expansion: a theorized mechanism for the development of preeclampsia. Bernstein, I.M., Meyer, M.C., Osol, G., Ward, K. Obstetrics and gynecology. (1998) [Pubmed]
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