Navigation Links
Pre-eclampsia may be autoimmune disease

Biochemists at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston say they are the first to provide pre-clinical evidence that pregnancy-induced high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia may be an autoimmune disease. Their research could provide novel diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities for this intractable disease. Findings appear online in Nature Medicine on July 27.

Scientists in the laboratory of Yang Xia, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the UT Medical School at Houston, provided evidence of the connection by inducing symptoms similar to pre-eclampsia in pregnant mice that had been administered autoantibodies isolated from women with the condition. This proof-of-principle experiment is called adoptive transfer.

Pre-eclampsia typically occurs in the last trimester of pregnancy and is characterized by a sudden increase in blood pressure, excess protein in the urine and swelling of the hands, feet and face. It affects about one in 20 pregnancies and the only cure is delivery of the baby. Pre-eclampsia contributes to 15 percent of premature babies and is associated with a high incidence of mother and infant morbidity and mortality in the United States.

"There is no effective treatment for pre-eclampsia other than delivery, in part because of the lack of complete understanding of the disease," said Susan Ramin, M.D., study co-author, the Emma Sue Hightower Professor and Chair in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the UT Medical School at Houston and a member of the medical staff of Memorial Hermann - Texas Medical Center. "This collaborative research is important because of its potential to lead to a possible cure of pre-eclampsia in pregnant women. Using the animal model we were able to prevent pre-eclampsia in pregnant mice. I don't want to overstate the implications, but this is clearly a very exciting time for all of us involved in the research. We plan to focus our efforts in expanding this research to pregnant women."

Unlike antibodies which attack foreign substances and clear diseases from the body, autoantibodies attack their own cells and cause conditions like lupus in which a person's immune system attacks the body's own organs and tissues, said Xia, the senior author. In the case of pre-eclampsia, autoantibodies are believed to bind and activate an angiotensin receptor that results in artery constriction.

Pre-eclampsia like symptoms were prevented when the pregnant mice were given agents designed to block the activation of the angiotensin receptor.

"The antibody injection model of pre-eclampsia described here provides strong experimental support for our working hypothesis that pre-eclampsia is an autoimmune disease in which angiotensin receptoractivating autoantibodies contribute to many features of the disease," Xia and her colleagues wrote in the paper.

If the research is confirmed in human trials, Xia believes this information could be used for both the earlier diagnosis and treatment of pre-eclampsia. By measuring autoantibody levels, clinicians could detect the disease weeks before symptoms appear. In addition, new drugs could be developed to inhibit the activation of the angiotensin receptor.

In the meantime, Xia said further research is needed to determine what triggers the production of the autoantibodies.

"Pre-eclampsia is one of the leading causes of prematurity and Small For Gestational Age (SGA) infants. Many of these babies are born with underdeveloped lungs or poor lung clearance of fluid, necessitating neonatal intensive care admission and various respiratory therapies to support their breathing. We continue to struggle to find a proven prevention or treatment solution for these problems," said Nehal A. Parikh, D.O., an assistant professor of neonatal-perinatal medicine at the UT Medical School at Houston and a member of the medical staff of Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital.

"If targeting the angiotensin receptor autoantibody is a useful strategy to treat pre-eclampsia, then it will also be a useful way to prevent and treat SGA associated with pre-eclampsia," Xia said.

The risk factors for pre-eclampsia include: having a history of pre-eclampsia; being obese; having twins, triplets or other multiples; and developing gestational diabetes.


Contact: Robert Cahill
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Related biology news :

1. New research on pre-eclampsia in mice may have important implications for humans
2. Low vitamin D during pregnancy linked to pre-eclampsia
3. Sugar linkage could lead to better treatment for autoimmune diseases
4. Steps toward Stopping Autoimmune Disease
5. Proteins new role discovered in autoimmune disease
6. NYU Langone Medical Centers tip sheet to the International Conference on Alzheimers Disease 2008
7. Latest advances in interventional cardiology for congenital heart disease presented
8. Protein transports nutrients believed to protect against eye disease
9. Gaining ground on sickle cell disease
10. Huntingtons disease: catching it early
11. Charcot-marie-tooth disease research funding
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/11/2015)... , Nov. 11, 2015   MedNet Solutions , an ... of clinical research, is pleased to announce that it will ... Trials (PCT) event, to be held November 17-19 in ... to view live demonstrations of iMedNet , ... how iMedNet has been able to deliver time ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ... announced broader entry into the automotive market with a ... the pace of consumer electronics human interface innovation. Synaptics, ... ideal for the automotive industry and will be implemented ... Europe , Japan , ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... LA JOLLA, Calif. , Oct. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ ... released a new report titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: ... how well the Department of Health and Human Services ... was issued in 2010. --> ... advances, but it also has the potential to pose ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... 2015 Frost & Sullivan is proud ... addresses ways companies can innovate and transform themselves ... --> ... --> --> ... as the disrupting factors altering the industry, such ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... Park Systems , ... add-on scanning ion conductance microscopy module to Park NX10 that is the only ... Park SICM benefits virtually all materials characterization that require measurements in liquid such ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Dr. Harry Lander , President of Regen, ... Chief Science Officer and recruits five distinguished scientists ... , President of Regen, expands his role to include ... five distinguished scientists to join advisory team --> ... to include serving as Chief Science Officer ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... ... Global Stem Cells Group announced that its scientific team is in the ... cells. The announcement starts a new phase toward launching the simple, quick system for ... lipoaspirate obtained from liposuction of excess adipose tissue. , Lipoaspirate, contains a large ...
Breaking Biology Technology: