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Pravastatin-l-arginine combination improves umbilical artery blood flow and neonatal outcomes in dichorionic twin pregnancies through an nitric oxide-dependent vasorelaxant effect

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Aleksandar Jurisic, Zaklina Jurisic, Eleftheria Lefkou, Joaquim Pombo, Guillermina Girardi

Original languageEnglish
Early online date4 Jun 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jun 2018


King's Authors


The increase in fetal and neonatal morbidity and mortality associated with twin pregnancies correlates with an increased risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight, and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Although the pathogenesis of IUGR is unclear and thus management remains a major challenge, feto-placental blood vessels are compromised, and altered umbilical blood flow is observed. In this pilot observational study we investigated the effects of pravastatin plus l-arginine on umbilical artery (umb art) blood flow. Between 2013 and 2016, five women received daily doses l-arginine and pravastatin when an umb art pulsatility index above limits for gestational age was observed and concerns about selective growth restrictions arose. All patients showed selective absent or reversed end-diastolic umbilical artery Doppler flow (AREDV) associated with increased perinatal mortality. Pravastatin (PRAV) plus l-arginine (l-Arg) treatment diminished umb art resistance significantly and allowed pregnancy to continue. No signs of acidosis or hypoxia, normal cardiotocography tracing, normal fetal movement and fetal weight gain were observed in the twins that showed abnormal umb art Dopplers. All neonates were born around 33 weeks (median 33 weeks, IQR [31.4–33.0]), thus diminishing substantially the chances for any prematurity-associated adverse neonatal outcomes. The infants now show normal growth and development. In in vitro studies, pravastatin induced relaxation of aortic rings. Murine studies identified were performed to investigate the mechanism behind PRAV+L-Arg beneficial effects. A nitric oxide (NO)-dependent synergistic vasorelaxant effect of PRAV+L-Arg was demonstrated using aortic rings. Increased levels of placental NO and increased synthesis of eNOS in placental endothelial cells were observed in mice treated with PRAV+L-Arg compared to untreated mice and mice treated with PRAV- or L-Arg alone. This study suggests that PRAV plus L-Arg might be a good therapeutic option to improve blood flow in umbilical arteries prolonging pregnancy and improving pregnancy outcomes in twins. A RCT should be organized to confirm these results.

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