OBJECTIVE: We hypothesized that maternal plasma corticotropin-releasing hormone levels are elevated in chronic hypertension and that elevations modulate maternal and fetal pituitary-adrenal function. STUDY DESIGN: Venous blood samples and 24-hour urine speciemsn were obtained in normal and hypertensive pregnancies at 21 to 40 weeks of gestatin. Corticotropin-releasing hormone, corticotropin, cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and total estriol levels were measured by radioimmunoassay. Mean hormone levels were compared by unpaired t test or two-way analysis of variance. RESULTS: Plasma corticotropin-releasing hormone levels were elevated early in hypertensive pregnancies but did not increase after 36 weeks. Levels of pituitary and adrenal hormones were not different in normal and hypertensive women. However, maternal plasma estriol levels were lower in hypertensive pregnancies compared with normal pregnancies. CONCLUSIONS: Fetal 16-hydroxy dehydroeplandrosterone sulfate, the major precursors to placental estriol production, has been reported to be lower than normal in hypertensive pregnancies, possibly explaining the decreased plasma estriol levels reported here. Early stimulation of placental corticotropin-releasing hormone production or section may be related to accelerated maturation of placental endocrine function in pregnancies complicated by chronic hypertension.
- chronic hypertension
- corticotropin-releasing hormone
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology