Skip Navigation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner

Women's Health

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

Cytokine genotypes may identify pregnant women who are at high risk of developing preeclampsia

Cytokine genotyping may prove to be an effective tool to screen for preeclampsia risk early in a woman's pregnancy, concludes a study supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS10592). Researchers found an association between variants in cytokine genes and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a systemic inflammatory condition characterized by high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine, and is a leading cause of maternal and neonatal problems. Levels of plasma proinflammatory cytokines (such as tumor necrosis factor and interleukin) are higher in women with preeclampsia than in pregnant women with normal blood pressure. An exaggerated inflammatory response to pregnancy may occur among genetically susceptible women, such as those who carry cytokine gene variants that are known to up-regulate cytokine production, explain the researchers.

Researchers examined cytokine genotypes among 150 women with preeclampsia and 661 women with normal blood pressure who were pregnant with their first child. White women with preeclampsia were 4 times more likely than those with normal blood pressure to carry the up-regulating tumor necrosis factor-alpha-308 A/A genotype. Black women with preeclampsia were nearly 12 times more likely and white women with preeclampsia were about 2 times more likely than their respective counterparts with normal blood pressure to carry the interleukin-1 alpha-producing-4845 G/G genotype; 5 times and 2 times (respectively) more likely to carry the -889 C/C genotype; and 3 times and 2 times (respectively) more likely to carry the interleukin-1alpha-4845/interleukin-1 alpha-889/interleukin-1B-3957 GCC/GCC haplotype.

See "Association between allelic variants in cytokine genes and preeclampsia," by Catherine L. Haggerty, Ph.D., M.P.H., Robert E. Ferrell, Ph.D., Carl A. Hubel, Ph.D., and others in the July 2005 American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 193, pp. 209-215.

Return to Contents
Proceed to Next Article

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care