Papers And Originals

Coagulation and Fibrinolytic Systems in Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia

Br Med J 1971; 2 doi: (Published 03 April 1971) Cite this as: Br Med J 1971;2:12
  1. John Bonnar,
  2. G. P. McNicol,
  3. A. S. Douglas


    The coagulation and fibrinolytic mechanisms were investigated in a group of patients with severe pre-eclampsia and eclampsia and the findings were compared with those of healthy women in late pregnancy. In patients with pre-eclampsia the following significant differences were found: (1) greater depression of plasma fibrinolytic activity (euglobulin lysis time) than in normal pregnancy, (2) a higher level of inhibitor to urokinaseinduced lysis, (3) increased levels of serum fibrin degradation products, and (4) reduced platelet counts.

    In patients with eclampsia a progressive increase of the level of serum fibrin degradation products was found over the three days following eclamptic seizures. No such increase occurred after grand mal seizures in late pregnancy. The findings in this study support the view that intravascular clotting is taking place in pre-eclampsia and that this disturbance of the balance between coagulation and fibrinolysis may be localized to certain areas of the vascular compartment, particularly the placental and renal circulations. Fibrin deposition in the maternal vessels supplying the placenta would impair the placental blood flow, which may explain the placental insufficiency which occurs in pre-eclampsia. Likewise fibrin deposition in the renal vasculature will result in glomerular damage and proteinuria. Hypertension may be related to the renal ischaemic changes or a compensatory response to the presence of fibrin deposition in the vascular compartment. This evidence of intravascular fibrin deposition raises the question of the possible therapeutic value of antithrombotic agents to inhibit the clotting process. On a theoretical basis such treatment might be expected to improve blood flow to the placenta and thereby fetal growth.