These results are important because they suggest that the compound, 'ergothioneine', is an indicator of pre-eclampsia and may help scientists to understand the cause of the condition, which is currently unknown.
Scientists at the University of Leeds took blood samples from a group of thirty-seven pregnant women and compared the red blood cells from women with pre-eclampsia with the red blood cells from women with no symptoms.
In results published in the journal Reproductive Sciences, chemists found a significantly higher concentration of the ergothioneine - a compound made by fungi - in the red blood cells of the women with pre-eclampsia.
Ergothioneine is already well known to be made by micro-organisms that are commonly found in foods such as unpasteurised dairy products. As it cannot be synthesised by humans it finds its way into human cells exclusively through our diet.
The NHS does not advise against pregnant women eating fungi or foods such as unpasteurised dairy products which contain ergothioneine producing fungi. In fact scientific studies on animals highlight the benefit of ergothioneine.
"These results suggest that a higher level of ergothioneine is an indicator of pre-eclampsia," says Dr Julie Fisher, a chemist at the University of Leeds who lead the research.
"I would not recommend that pregnant women stop eating fungi. However, the high concentration of ergothioneine in the red blood cells of women with pre-eclampsia is a very interesting finding – the more we know about the chemicals involved in the disease the closer we get to understanding what causes it," says Professor James Walker, Professor of Obstetrics at the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine (LIMM), and a co-author of the research.
The symptoms of pre-eclampsia include high blood pressure, protein in urine and fluid retention and affects almost 10% of pregnancies after 20 weeks. Left untreated, the condition can cause a range of problems such as growth restriction in babies and even foetal and maternal mortality. There is no known cause of the condition.
"Ergothioneine is known as an antioxidant and antioxidants have been proposed to be helpful in reducing the risk of preeclampsia. It is therefore very interesting that we have found it to be in excess for women with the condition," says Dr Fisher.
The team used a technique which is based on the same science as MRI scans but which operates on fluids taken from the body, to identify chemicals in the red blood cells of pregnant women. The amount of these chemicals was found to depend on whether the women were healthy or whether they were suffering from pre-eclampsia. In previous studies the team found that chemical markers for pre-eclampsia also exist in blood plasma.
The research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council, UK.
For more information
Dr Julie Fisher is available for interview, Tel: 0113 343 6577, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or contact the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 4031 or email email@example.com
The paper Imidazole-Based Erythrocyte Markers of Oxidative Stress in Preeclampsia-An NMR Investigation is published in the journal Reproductive Sciences and is available to journalists on request.
Notes for editors
1. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed the University of Leeds to be the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse. The University is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015. www.leeds.ac.uk
2. The School of Chemistry is highly regarded for its teaching and research excellence both nationally and internationally. In the Research Assessment Exercise 2008 the School was ranked 8th in the country. Our teaching is rated as 'excellent' by the Teaching Quality Assessment. The School has recently benefited from an £8m investment in new research laboratories and another £4m in state-of-the-art teaching laboratories.
3. The Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine (LIMM), is an Institute of the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Leeds. It is located part on the St James's University Hospital site, part at Chapel Allerton and part on the University's central Leeds campus. LIMM is dedicated to research into defining the molecules involved in human diseases and in translational research to convert these studies into novel therapies and new drugs. More about the work of the Institute can be found here: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/medhealth/limm/themes.html
3. Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy specific condition, the causes of which are still not fully understood. The condition develops is around 10% of pregnancies and can only be reversed by delivery of the baby. It is the major cause of maternal and foetal mortality in developed countries. Symptoms and signs of the condition include headache, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, visual disturbances, confusion, vomiting. Pre-eclampsia can also lead to seizures (eclampsia) in around 0.2% of pregnancies and can be associated with complications such as coma and maternal death.
5. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests more than £500 million a year in research and postgraduate training to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and from mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements in everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. For more information visit www.epsrc.ac.uk/
Organ Crosstalk: Fatty Liver Can Cause Damage to Other Organs
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Diabetesforschung
Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related
17.08.2017 | University of Washington
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy