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Steroid profiling in preeclamptic women: evidence for aromatase deficiency.

[aromatase deficiency]

Experimental data have revealed the critical role played by 2-methoxy-estradiol, a metabolite of 17β-estradiol, in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia. We used gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to measure a whole panel of hormonal steroids in the plasma from women during the third trimester of their pregnancy.The population study consists of 24 pregnant patients with different outcomes: normal, or complicated by isolated preeclampsia or by severe preeclampsia with Hemolysis Enzyme Liver Low Platelets (HELLP) syndrome.17β-estradiol was reduced by 50% in isolated preeclampsia, and by 70% in severe preeclampsia with HELLP syndrome (normal: 8.54 ± 0.9 ng/mL; isolated preeclampsia: 4.65 ± 1.0 ng/mL; severe preeclampsia with HELLP syndrome: 2.64 ± 0.4 ng/mL), as is estrone. Downstream, 2-methoxy-estradiol was decreased only in severe preeclampsia with HELLP syndrome. The concentrations of estrone and 17β-estradiol precursors were comparable between groups, suggesting that placental aromatase is deficient in preeclampsia.The gradual decrease of estrogen levels with increasing severity of preeclampsia suggests an impairment of placental steroidogenesis.