Pregnant women with systemic lupus erythematosus and elevated levels of interferon-alpha are more likely to develop preeclampsia, according to a small study by Dr. Danieli Andrade and her associates.
A total of 28 systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients with uncomplicated pregnancies did not have elevated interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) levels, while another 28 SLE patients with preeclampsia who were matched for age and gender/ethnicity did. However, nonautoimmune pregnant women who developed preeclampsia also did not experience elevated IFN-alpha. SLE patients with preeclampsia and elevated levels of IFN-alpha had minimal amounts of an antiangiogenic growth factor, even though an excess of that antiangiogenic growth factor is usually associated with preeclampsia in SLE pregnancies.
In a related editorial, Dr. Ana Cerdeira and Dr. Ravi Thadhani theorize how IFN-alpha could cause the endothelial system to be more sensitive to the antiangiogenic growth factor, so that even slightly elevated levels of the antiangiogenic growth factor could cause preeclampsia. They also agree with the study authors on the relevance of the findings and how elevated IFN-alpha levels could be used to risk stratify SLE pregnancies.