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Blood Test Differentiates Severe COVID-19 from Preeclampsia in Pregnant Women

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 Apr 2022
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Image: Blood test can differentiate preeclampsia from severe COVID-19 (Photo courtesy of Pexels)
Image: Blood test can differentiate preeclampsia from severe COVID-19 (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

Preeclampsia is an inflammatory condition that appears during pregnancy and whose cause is still unknown. This condition is characterized by high blood pressure combined with organ dysfunctions, such as renal and liver failure. Should preeclampsia not be early diagnosed, it can lead to serious complications for the mother and the baby. Induced delivery and placenta removal are currently the only solution for this condition. Pregnant women who may have preeclampsia may also be tested positive on COVID-19. In those cases, there may be doubts whether they suffer from preeclampsia and asymptomatic COVID-19 or only have COVID-19 with no preeclampsia, as both pathologies present similar clinical signs. Now, a new study has identified indicators which enable differentiating between both pathologies, thus paving the way for a more accurate diagnosis for both diseases and a better risk assessment.

In the new study, researchers at the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute (IJC, Barcelona, Spain) questioned the extent to which preeclampsia and COVID-19 share biological characteristics. They assessed indicators of endothelial dysfunction, blood clotting, angiogenesis and immune function from blood of pregnant women with preeclampsia or COVID-19 and compared them with of healthy pregnant women’s. The research team were successfully able to differentiate preeclampsia from severe COVID-19, thanks to the strong and reproducible differences in the panel of indicators, being angiogenesis (sFlt-1, Ang2 and P1GF), blood clotting (antigen vWF) and endothelial damage (VCAM-1 and sTNFRI) the most patent.

The study also shows that there are shared elements between both pathologies such as the activation of the complement system, an important part of the immune system, even if the alterations caused by COVID-19 are less significant than the ones caused by preeclampsia. These outcomes are a further step in preeclampsia characterization, a little-known pregnancy-related disease but main responsible for maternal and perinatal mortality in the world and premature births. These results are also medically relevant, as they offer diagnostic tools which allow distinguishing preeclampsia from COVID-19 and helping in their clinical management and treatment. The results of the study are considered as the most important review in gynecology.

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