Altered platelet calcium metabolism as an early predictor of increased peripheral vascular resistance and preeclampsia in urban black women

Michael B. Zemel, Paula C. Zemel, Stan Berry, Gwendolyn Norman, Carol Kowalczyk, Robert J. Sokol, Paul R. Standley, Mary F. Walsh, James R. Sowers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Although preeclampsia is an important and relatively common medical problem, its pathophysiology remains unresolved and the search for a biochemical marker that precedes the hemodynamic abnormalities of preeclampsia continues. We designed a study to investigate the hemodynamic changes that characterize preeclampsia and to evaluate the metabolism of platelet intracellular calcium as a possible predictor of the development of preeclampsia. Hemodynamic measurements and spectrofluorometric determinations of the levels of intracellular calcium in platelets in the basal state and after stimulation with an agonist were performed in 48 nulliparous black women during each trimester of pregnancy. The data on the 14 women (29 percent) in whom preeclampsia developed were then compared with the data on the other 34, who served as normotensive controls. There was no significant difference between the two groups in the basal levels of intracellular calcium at any time. In contrast, the levels measured after arginine vasopressin was administered during the first trimester indicated an exaggerated response in the group with preeclampsia as compared with the control group (1494±388 [±SEM] percent vs. 545±55 percent of base line; P<0.0002), which was sustained through the second and third trimesters. All but three of the women with preeclampsia had responses higher than the highest response among the controls. Platelet intracellular calcium responses to arginine vasopressin during the first trimester were a sensitive predictor of the subsequent development of preeclampsia (P<0.00009). Although vascular resistance was similar in the two groups during the first trimester, it subsequently decreased in the control group (P<0.02) but not in the group with preeclampsia. Our findings indicate that preeclampsia is characterized by the absence of the normal pregnancy-related decrease in vascular resistance, which is preceded in most instances by an exaggerated response of platelet intracellular calcium to arginine vasopressin early in pregnancy. We therefore propose that an increase in the sensitivity of platelet calcium to arginine vasopressin can be used as an early predictor of subsequent preeclampsia. (N Engl J Med 1990; 323:434–8.)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-438
Number of pages5
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 16 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Altered platelet calcium metabolism as an early predictor of increased peripheral vascular resistance and preeclampsia in urban black women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this