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On the Aetiology of Eclampsia with Special Reference to Adrenocortical Hormones

JAMA. 1950;144(12):1042. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02920120066033.
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Studies of the effects of the mineralocorticoids on the pregnant and nonpregnant rabbit, as well as clinical experience, lead the authors to make a postulate on the etiology of eclampsia as one of the hyperfunctional diseases of the adaptation syndrome. In support of this postulate they point out that during pregnancy the secretion of corticoids is greatly enhanced, reaching the maximum at the thirty-second to thirty-sixth week. Superimposed on this increased corticoid secretion, the authors reason, must be two other factors, an intrinsic constitutional or acquired deficiency of the vascular system, kidneys or liver and extrinsic factors, such as high sodium in the diet and vitamin deficiencies.

Desoxycorticosterone, as the most potent of the mineralocorticoids, is felt to be the adrenal hormone most likely to cause the altered sodium-potassium ratio found in brain and muscle cells. In animal experiments, edema, periportal cell infiltration, localized liver necrosis and nephrosis have developed


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