We tested the ability of magnesium sulfate to reduce hypertension and neonatal growth retardation in an animal model of preeclampsia.
On day 17 of pregnancy, osmotic minipumps were inserted subcutaneously to continuously deliver either vehicle (saline control group), or N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) (50 mg/kg/day), or L-NAME (50 mg/kg/day) in combination with magnesium sulfate (60 mg/kg/day). Prior to insertion, blood pressure and heart rate were monitored with a pneumatic tail cuff device. Blood pressure measurements were repeated on days 18, 20, and 21 of pregnancy. Blood was obtained on days 17 and 21, along with urine, to assess magnesium levels and degree of proteinuria. Pups were weighed and measured at 48 hours postpartum.
Rats receiving L-NAME developed hypertension within 24 hours of implantation (108 +/- 3.9 vs. 123 +/- 3.4 mmHg, p < 0.05). Magnesium sulfate, given along with L-NAME did not prevent mean blood pressure from increasing, but reduced it by day 21 compared to L-NAME given alone (107 +/- 3.4 vs. 122 +/- 8.7 mmHg, respectively, p < 0.05). Magnesium sulfate reduced neonatal growth retardation by improving the weight of the pups compared to pups from maternal rats given L-NAME alone (6.1 +/- 0.1 vs. 5.2 +/- 0.3 grams, respectively, p < 0.05).
Maternal magnesium sulfate reduces blood pressure and increases neonatal size compared to L-NAME without magnesium. These findings support a beneficial effect of magnesium in preeclampsia.