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 Light beam replaces blood test during heart surgery
28.02.2017 | University of Central Florida

nachricht Cells adapt ultra-rapidly to zero gravity
28.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

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: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists reach back in time to discover some of the most power-packed galaxies

28.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nano 'sandwich' offers unique properties

28.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Light beam replaces blood test during heart surgery

28.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>