This study was conducted to compare the effects of serum from healthy pregnant women and that from pregnant women with pre-eclampsia on oxidative stress in endothelial cells in culture. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were incubated with serum from 18 pre-eclamptic, 18 healthy pregnant and 18 healthy non-pregnant women for 24h. The levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) and lipid peroxides (LPOs) were measured in endothelial cell lysates. Measurement of malondialdehyde in combination with 4-hydroxyalkenals has been used as an indicator of LPOs. Serum from healthy pregnant women decreased significantly the LPO content in HUVECs in comparison with serum from pre-eclamptic women and healthy non-pregnant women (30.7±6.6 compared with 39.3±10.9 and 41.0±12.7pmol/mg of protein respectively; P<0.003 and P<0.01 respectively). No differences in GSH content between the three groups (18.3±2.1nmol/mg of protein for healthy pregnant, 19.2±3.3nmol/mg for pre-eclamptic and 18.3±2.0nmol/mg for healthy non-pregnant women) were found. Thus serum from normal pregnant women contains a factor(s) that decreases oxidative stress in human endothelial cells. This mechanism might be altered in pre-eclampsia.

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