Amniotic fluid embolism pathophysiology suggests the new diagnostic armamentarium: β-tryptase and complement fractions C3-C4 are the indispensable working tools

Francesco Paolo Busardò, Paola Frati, Simona Zaami, Vittorio Fineschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) is an uncommon obstetric condition involving pregnant women during labor or in the initial stages after delivery. Its incidence is estimated to be around 5.5 cases per 100,000 deliveries. Therefore, this paper investigated the pathophysiological mechanism, which underlies AFE, in order to evaluate the role of immune response in the development of this still enigmatic clinical entity. The following databases (from 1956 to September 2014) Medline, Cochrane Central, Scopus, Web of Science and Science Direct were used, searching the following key words: AFE, pathophysiology, immune/inflammatory response, complement and anaphylaxis. The main key word “AFE” was searched singularly and associated individually to each of the other keywords. Of the 146 sources found, only 19 were considered appropriate for the purpose of this paper. The clinical course is characterized by a rapid onset of symptoms, which include: acute hypotension and/or cardiac arrest, acute hypoxia (with dyspnoea, cyanosis and/or respiratory arrest), coagulopathies (disseminated intravascular coagulation and/or severe hemorrhage), coma and seizures. The pathology still determines a significant morbidity and mortality and potential permanent neurological sequelae for surviving patients. At this moment, numerous aspects involving the pathophysiology and clinical development are still not understood and several hypotheses have been formulated, in particular the possible role of anaphylaxis and complement. Moreover, the detection of serum tryptase and complement components and the evaluation of fetal antigens can explain several aspects of immune response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6557-6570
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 23 2015



  • Amniotic fluid embolism
  • Complement
  • Immune response
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mast cell degranulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications

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