Researchers Identify Cause of Preeclampsia and Potential Treatment

Researchers Identify Cause of Preeclampsia and Potential Treatment

Researchers from Western University and Brown University have made significant progress in understanding the cause of preeclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication. Preeclampsia affects around 8% of pregnancies worldwide and is a leading cause of maternal and fetal mortality due to premature delivery, placental complications, and lack of oxygen. The research, led by Drs. Kun Ping Lu and Xiao Zhen Zhou at Western University and Drs. Surendra Sharma and Sukanta Jash at Brown University, has identified a toxic protein called cis P-tau, which is present in the blood and placenta of preeclampsia patients. The study, published in Nature Communications, identifies cis P-tau as a central cause of preeclampsia and a crucial therapeutic target.

Cis P-tau was previously associated with neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. The researchers developed an antibody that targets this toxic protein and is currently undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries and Alzheimer’s Disease. They tested the antibody in mouse models and found that it efficiently depleted the toxic protein and eliminated all characteristics of preeclampsia, such as elevated blood pressure, excessive protein in urine, and fetal growth restriction. This discovery holds promise for the development of a potential treatment for preeclampsia.

The research also revealed that preeclampsia disproportionately affects Black and Hispanic women. Previous studies have shown that genetics may play a role in higher blood pressure levels, but the exact link to environmental factors remains unclear. Additionally, recent research has suggested a heightened risk of dementia later in life for both mothers who have experienced preeclampsia and their children. The researchers believe that this study may have uncovered the underlying cause of the complex relationship between preeclampsia and brain health.

Another potential factor in the onset of preeclampsia is the body’s response to stress. The researchers discovered a stress-response enzyme called Pin1, which is involved in keeping proteins in their functional shape during stress. When Pin1 becomes inactive, it leads to the formation of the toxic protein cis P-tau. This discovery has implications for understanding and treating various conditions, from pregnancy-related issues to brain disorders.

Overall, this research represents a significant step forward in understanding preeclampsia and provides hope for the development of effective treatments. Although there is still much to learn, this newfound knowledge could have far-reaching implications for improving maternal and fetal health.

– Nature Communications (study)
– Western University
– Brown University

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