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New risk factor identified for high blood pressure during pregnancy
Date:11/26/2012

Preeclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy and the major cause of death for both mother and child in Europe and the U.S. It affects about one in 20 pregnancies. The main symptoms are high blood pressure and protein in the urine. The cause of preeclampsia is still unclear. Dr. Florian Herse (Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) of the Max Delbrck Center (MDC) and the Charit), Dr. Ralf Dechend (ECRC and Helios Klinikum Berlin-Buch) and their collaborators have now identified an enzyme that is overexpressed in affected women and thus apparently contributes to development of the condition. In animal experiments, the researchers inhibited this enzyme and were able to ameliorate the disease process (10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.127340)*.

Preeclampsia originates in the placenta, which supplies the embryo/fetus in the womb with nutrients. For their study, Dr. Herse, numerous contributors, and Dr. Dechend analyzed tissue samples from 25 women diagnosed with preeclampsia and from 23 healthy pregnant women as controls. The tissue samples of the preeclamptic women were obtained from hospitals in Finland, Norway, Austria, and the U.S. that cooperated closely in the study.

Using gene-chip technology, the researchers in Berlin analyzed the expression of almost 40,000 genes. They found that in women with preeclampsia, levels of the CYP2J2 enzyme were unusually high in placental cells and the uterine lining (decidua). The placenta consists of fetal cells; the decidua, by contrast, is solely maternal tissue. The enzyme is involved in the production of specific metabolites called EETs (epoxyeicosatrienoic acids) which, among other things, regulate inflammatory processes, vascular growth, and blood pressure.

Dr. Herse and team succeeded in identifying the cells that produce the CYP2J2 enzyme as trophoblasts, which fulfill an important function in pregnancy. These fetal cells migrate from the placenta into the maternal decidua. Troph
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Contact: Barbara Bachtler
bachtler@mdc-berlin.de
49-309-406-3896
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

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