Schlembach and co-workers in this issue of Clinical Science have studied the association of maternal and/or fetal factor V Leiden (FVL) and prothrombin G20210A gene mutation with HELLP syndrome and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) to confirm whether these genetic mutations are important risk factors for the pathogenesis of the HELLP syndrome, leading to an inadequate maternal–fetal circulation. Results showed that fetal FVL and prothrombin G20210A gene mutation were significantly associated with IUGR. The authors speculated that fetal thrombophilic mutations resulted in placental microthrombosis, leading to a disturbed fetoplacental blood flow. This study represents another important step in our understanding of the pathophysiological action of fetal thrombophilic mutations on fetal development. Regarding the aetiology of pre-eclampsia, one possible speculation is that systemic immune maladaptation, including systemic cytokine imbalance, contributes to placental ischaemia and systemic vessel abnormalities leading to pre-eclampsia.

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