Classical Complement Pathway Activation in the Kidneys of Women With Preeclampsia
A growing body of evidence suggests that complement dysregulation plays a role in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia. The kidney is one of the major organs affected in preeclampsia. Because the kidney is highly susceptible to complement activation, we hypothesized that preeclampsia is associated with renal complement activation. We performed a nationwide search for renal autopsy material in the Netherlands using a computerized database (PALGA). Renal tissue was obtained from 11 women with preeclampsia, 25 pregnant controls, and 14 nonpregnant controls with hypertension. The samples were immunostained for C4d, C1q, mannose-binding lectin, properdin, C3d, C5b-9, IgA, IgG, and IgM. Preeclampsia was significantly associated with renal C4d—a stable marker of complement activation—and the classical pathway marker C1q. In addition, the prevalence of IgM was significantly higher in the kidneys of the preeclamptic women. No other complement markers studied differed between the groups. Our findings in human samples were validated using a soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 mouse model of preeclampsia. The kidneys in the soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1−injected mice had significantly more C4 deposits than the control mice. The association between preeclampsia and renal C4d, C1q, and IgM levels suggests that the classical complement pathway is involved in the renal injury in preeclampsia. Moreover, our finding that soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1−injected mice develop excess C4 deposits indicates that angiogenic dysregulation may play a role in complement activation within the kidney. We suggest that inhibiting complement activation may be beneficial for preventing the renal manifestations of preeclampsia.
- Received March 18, 2015.
- Revision received April 8, 2015.
- Accepted April 15, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.