Complement activation and kidney injury molecule-1-associated proximal tubule injury in severe preeclampsia

Richard M. Burwick, Sarah Rae Easter, Hassan Y. Dawood, Hidemi S. Yamamoto, Raina N. Fichorova, Bruce B. Feinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Kidney injury with proteinuria is a characteristic feature of preeclampsia, yet the nature of injury in specific regions of the nephron is incompletely understood. Our study aimed to use existing urinary biomarkers to describe the pattern of kidney injury and proteinuria in pregnancies affected by severe preeclampsia. We performed a case-control study of pregnant women from Brigham and Women's Hospital from 2012 to 2013. We matched cases of severe preeclampsia (n=25) 1:1 by parity and gestational age to 2 control groups with and without chronic hypertension. Urinary levels of kidney injury molecule-1 and complement components (C3a, C5a, and C5b-9) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and other markers (albumin, ß2 microglobulin, cystatin C, epithelial growth factor, neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin, osteopontin, and uromodulin) were measured simultaneously with a multiplex electrochemiluminescence assay. Median values between groups were compared with the Wilcoxon signed-rank test and correlations with Spearman correlation coefficient. Analysis of urinary markers revealed higher excretion of albumin and kidney injury molecule-1 and lower excretion of neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin and epithelial growth factor in severe preeclampsia compared with chronic hypertension and healthy controls. Among subjects with severe preeclampsia, urinary excretion of complement activation products correlated most closely with kidney injury molecule-1, a specific marker of proximal tubule injury (C5a: r=0.60; P=0.001; and C5b-9: r=0.75; P<0.0001). Taken together, we describe a pattern of kidney injury in severe preeclampsia that is characterized by glomerular impairment and complement-mediated inflammation and injury, possibly localized to the proximal tubule in association with kidney injury molecule-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)833-838
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Complement membrane attack complex
  • Complement system proteins
  • Preeclampsia
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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