Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

BIDMC researchers identify source of preeclampsia

04.03.2003


Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have identified a protein that leads to the development of preeclampsia, a serious and potentially life-threatening complication of pregnancy.



These findings, which could help lead to the development of diagnostic tools and therapies for this baffling condition, appear in the March 2003 issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Also known as toxemia, preeclampsia occurs in an estimated 5 percent of all pregnancies, affecting approximately 200,000 women in the U.S. each year. The condition typically develops after the 20th week of pregnancy and in mild cases, is characterized by high blood pressure, edema, and protein in the urine. In severe cases, the condition can rapidly develop into eclampsia, in which the mother suffers serious – and potentially fatal – seizures.


"Currently, there is no treatment for this condition," says the study’s lead author S. Ananth Karumanchi, M.D., of the Renal Division at BIDMC and Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "The only management we can offer patients is to deliver the baby and the placenta, which can result in the infant being born prematurely." As a result, preeclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal and infant mortality in developing countries.

In a normal pregnancy, the developing fetus signals the mother’s body to widen blood vessels to the placenta, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. But, for unknown reasons, in women with preeclampsia the blood vessels grow narrower, impeding the flow of blood and oxygen. The diminished oxygen levels apparently set in motion a rapid progression of potentially fatal complications involving the mother’s liver, kidneys, lungs, blood and nervous system.

Scientists have long speculated that the placenta was releasing some unknown factor that was triggering this abnormal course of events. In order to identify this factor, Karumanchi and his colleagues first performed gene expression profiling tests of placental tissue from patients with and without preeclampsia.

The test results showed that a protein known as soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 (sFlt1) was significantly elevated among the preeclampsia patients. With this information in hand, the researchers administered the protein to both pregnant and non-pregnant rats to test whether sFlt1 was at the root of the problem.

"The resulting data was exciting," says Karumanchi. "The rats that were exposed to sFlt1 had distinct clinical and pathological symptoms of preeclampsia, demonstrating for the first time a clear cause and effect relationship between this protein and this disease."

What is apparently happening, he explains, is that sFlt1 is binding to and "mopping up" another group of proteins, known as angiogenic factors. "Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and placental growth factor (PIGF) exist to promote angiogenesis, the growth and health of small blood vessels," he explains. VEGF has, in fact, been shown to promote tumor growth among cancer patients and is therefore the target of anti-angiogenic therapies being developed for the treatment of some malignancies.

Among preeclampsia patients, says Karumanchi, the diminished levels of VEGF and PIGF caused by the actions of sFlt1 affect the health of the mother’s small blood vessels, and ultimately lead to the telltale symptoms of preeclampsia.

"These findings provide us with an important piece of information as we work to develop strategies to treat preeclampsia," notes Karumanchi. "We’re obviously a number of years away from being able to put these to use in humans but these results are an important step in the process." Furthermore, adds study coauthor Vikas Sukhatme, M.D., Ph.D., this study has important implications for the use of anti-angiogenic therapies in the treatment of cancer.


###
Study coauthors include Sharon Maynard, M.D., Jiang-Yong Min, M.D., Jaime Merchan, M.D., Kee-Hak Lim, M.D., Jianyi Li, Ph.D., Susanta Mondal, Ph.D., Towia Libermann, Ph.D., James Morgan, M.D., Ph.D., Frank Sellke, M.D., Isaac Stillman, M.D., Franklin Epstein, M.D., and Vikas Sukhatme, M.D., Ph.D., who represent the Departments of Medicine, Surgery, Pathology and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the American Society of Nephrology, and support from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a major patient care, research and teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of CareGroup Healthcare System. The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at BIDMC delivers 5,000 infants each year and specializes in the care of high-risk pregnant women, including preeclampsia patients. Beth Israel Deaconess is the third largest recipient of National Institutes of Health funding among independent U.S. teaching hospitals.

Bonnie Prescott | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bidmc.harvard.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Fast-tracking T cell therapies with immune-mimicking biomaterials
16.01.2018 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication
12.01.2018 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Breaking bad metals with neutrons

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

ISFH-CalTeC is “designated test centre” for the confirmation of solar cell world records

16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>