However, preeclampsia is a serious problem in industrialized countries, too. In Germany, for example, every year more than 20,000 babies are born prematurely due to preeclampsia. “In fact preeclampsia is among the leading causes of prematurely born babies,” Dr. Karumanchi stressed. As each additional week in the uterus of the mother lowers fetal morbidity and mortality, physicians strive to prolong pregnancy without compromising the safety of the mother.If the condition becomes too dangerous for the pregnant woman, they intervene and induce labor. As soon as the child is born, the mother’s symptoms disappear. But later in life the mothers can develop heart disease, hypertension and thyroid disorders due to preeclampsia. And premature babies run the risk, if they survive, of life-long disability.
Dr. Karumanchi was able to show that the placenta, the organ in the uterus which nourishes the embryo and the fetus, plays an important role in the onset of preeclampsia. It releases two different proteins. One of the proteins, the PlGF (placental growth factor) makes blood vessels grow towards the placenta. It is an angiogenisis factor which is part of the VEGF family, a large group of proteins that induces blood vessel growth. The antagonist to PlGF is sFlt-1 (soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1). It binds to PlGF and inhibits blood vessel growth. The levels of these two proteins in the blood of the pregnant women must be in balance for mother and unborn baby to stay healthy.
Dr. Karumanchi’s team discovered that pregnant women with preeclampsia have too much sFlt-1 circulating in their blood, and too little PlGF. As a result the placenta is no longer well supplied with blood, and the fetus does not get enough nutrients. Also, lack of PlGF constricts the blood vessels, and the expectant mother’s blood pressure becomes elevated – the main symptom of preeclampsia. As the kidneys are affected, too, the patient develops proteinuria, characterized by too much protein in the urine.Whereas formerly preeclampsia in pregnant women could only be diagnosed by these symptoms – hypertension and proteinuria – the findings of Dr. Karumanchi now make it possible to detect preeclampsia at a very early stage, even before the first symptoms appear. Researchers and clinicians measure sFlt-1 and PlGF levels and they can determine if sFLT-1 levels are too high. They can then monitor the expectant mothers at a very early stage and help prevent the disease from progressing in order to avoid seizures and liver failure.
Barbara Bachtler | Max-Delbrück-Centrum
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy