Women who smoke during pregnancy have a reduced risk of preeclampsia. The mechanism of this association is poorly understood. Preeclampsia is an anti-angiogenic and inflammatory state. Transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) is a multi-functional anti-inflammatory cytokine that activates membrane bound endoglin on endothelial cells causing a myriad of vascular actions including vasorelaxation. The objective of the study was to determine serum levels of cytokines, angiogenic factors, placental growth factor (PlGF), TGF-β-1 and anti-angiogenic factors, soluble endoglin (sEng) and soluble vascular endothelial growth factor 1 (sVEGFR1) in smoking and non-smoking pregnant women.
Using enzyme-linked immunosorbent and multiplex assays we prospectively analyzed serum levels of PIGF, TGF-β1, sEng, sVEGFR1 and cytokines in normotensive pregnant smokers and non-smokers. Exclusion criteria included maternal hypertension, autoimmune disorders, rupture of membranes, evidence of labor and drug use.
There were 59 women in the smoking and 66 in the non-smoking group. Compared to non-smoking mothers. maternal age was lower in smoking mothers with no significant difference in other demographic variables. There was no difference in levels of cytokines, anti-angiogenic factors and PlGF between the two groups. Median TGF-β1 levels were significantly higher in the smoking group (8120 pg/mL vs 6040 pg/mL, p < 0.001) and remained significant after controlling for confounders. TGF-β1 levels correlated positively with cotinine levels in the smoking group.
We speculate that higher TGF-β1 levels may explain the reduced incidence of preeclampsia in mothers who smoke by being available for action on maternal endothelium even after inactivation by circulating maternal sEng.

Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.