This study aimed to assess the associations of maternal iron status and placental iron transport proteins expression with the risk of pre-eclampsia (PE) in Chinese pregnant women. A total of 94 subjects with PE and 112 healthy pregnant women were enrolled. Fasting blood samples were collected to detect maternal iron status. The placenta samples were collected at delivery to detect the mRNA and protein expression of divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1) and ferroportin-1 (FPN1). Logistic analysis was used to explore the associations of maternal iron status with PE risk. The associations of placental iron transport proteins with maternal iron status were explored. After adjusting for covariates, dietary total iron, non-heme iron intake and serum hepcidin were negatively associated with PE, with adjusted ORs (95%CIs) were 0.40 (0.17, 0.91), 0.42 (0.18, 0.94) and 0.02 (0.002, 0.13) for the highest versus lowest tertile, respectively. For the highest tertile versus lowest tertile, serum iron (4.08 (1.58, 10.57)) and ferritin (5.61 (2.36, 13.31)) were positively associated with PE. The mRNA expressions and protein levels of DMT1 and FPN1 in placenta were up-regulated in the PE group (p < 0.05). The mRNA expressions of DMT1 and FPN1 in placenta showed a negative correlation with the serum hepcidin (r = -0.71, p < 0.001; r = -0.49, p < 0.05). In conclusion, the maternal iron status were closely associated with PE risk, placental DMT1 and FPN1 were upregulated in PE which may be a promising target for the prevention of PE.

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