Context: Previous studies have shown reduced placental levels of 11-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11HSD2) in preeclampsia (PE). However, it is unknown if the maternal cortisol-to-cortisone ratio is predictive of placental complications of pregnancy. Objective: To determine the relationship between the maternal serum cortisol-to-cortisone ratio at different stages of pregnancy and the risk of PE or fetal growth restriction (FGR). Design: Women from the Pregnancy Outcome Prediction Study experiencing PE (n = 194) or FGR (n = 185), plus a random sample of healthy controls (n = 279), were studied. Steroids were measured at;12,;20,;28, and;36 weeks of gestational age (wkGA). Separate analyses were performed for outcomes with term or preterm delivery. Associations were modeled using logistic regression. Results: At 28 wkGA, the cortisol-to-cortisone ratio was negatively associated (OR per 1 SD increase, 95% CI)] with preterm PE (OR 0.33, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.57), term PE (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.49 to 0.76), and preterm FGR (OR 0.50, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.85). At 36 wkGA, the cortisol-to-cortisone ratio was negatively associated with term PE (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.55) but not term FGR (OR 1.07, 95% CI 0.87 to 1.31). Associations were not materially affected by adjustment for maternal characteristics. Conclusions: A lower maternal serum cortisol-to-cortisone ratio precedes clinical manifestation of PE and preterm FGR by many weeks, despite previous reports of reduced levels of placental 11bHSD2 in these conditions. Our observations implicate enhanced maternal 11bHSD2 activity or reduced 11bHSD type 1 activity in the pathophysiology of PE.
Jayasuriya, N. A., Hughes, A. E., Sovio, U., Cook, E., Stephen Charnock-Jones, D., & Smith, G. C. S. (2019). A lower maternal cortisol-to-cortisone ratio precedes clinical diagnosis of preterm and term preeclampsia by many weeks. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 104(6), 2355–2366. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2018-02312