Publications & Posters

Cerebral Biomarkers and Blood-Brain Barrier Integrity in Preeclampsia

Cells | February 24, 2022

Friis T, Wikström AK, Acurio J, León J, Zetterberg H, Blennow K, Nelander M, Åkerud H, Kaihola H, Cluver C, Troncoso F, Torres-Vergara P, Escudero C and Bergman L

Cells. 2022;11

This study was performed using Simoa Homebrew assay(s).


Cerebral complications in preeclampsia contribute substantially to maternal mortality and morbidity. There is a lack of reliable and accessible predictors for preeclampsia-related cerebral complications. In this study, plasma from women with preeclampsia (n = 28), women with normal pregnancies (n = 28) and non-pregnant women (n = 16) was analyzed for concentrations of the cerebral biomarkers neurofilament light (NfL), tau, neuron-specific enolase (NSE) and S100B. Then, an in vitro blood–brain barrier (BBB) model, based on the human cerebral microvascular endothelial cell line (hCMEC/D3), was employed to assess the effect of plasma from the three study groups. Transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) was used as an estimation of BBB integrity. NfL and tau are proteins expressed in axons, NSE in neurons and S100B in glial cells and are used as biomarkers for neurological injury in other diseases such as dementia, traumatic brain injury and hypoxic brain injury. Plasma concentrations of NfL, tau, NSE and S100B were all higher in women with preeclampsia compared with women with normal pregnancies (8.85 vs. 5.25 ng/L, p < 0.001; 2.90 vs. 2.40 ng/L, p < 0.05; 3.50 vs. 2.37 µg/L, p < 0.001 and 0.08 vs. 0.05 µg/L, p < 0.01, respectively). Plasma concentrations of NfL were also higher in women with preeclampsia compared with non-pregnant women (p < 0.001). Higher plasma concentrations of the cerebral biomarker NfL were associated with decreased TEER (p = 0.002) in an in vitro model of the BBB, a finding which indicates that NfL could be a promising biomarker for BBB alterations in preeclampsia.