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Abortion drug's off-label use may have led to deaths
Date:6/16/2008

everal kinds of infections, including bacterial, viral and parasitic infections that can threaten a healthy pregnancy. Among these are group B Streptococcus, rubella and toxoplasmosis infections.

Infections during pregnancy are cause for great concern, because they are thought to contribute to pre-term births, stillbirths and birth defects. Worldwide, nearly seven million women develop infections during or after childbirth, resulting in one million premature births, stillbirths and maternal deaths. Preterm births are a growing problem.

Misoprostol is actually a synthetic version of one of the body's own suppressors of the immune response, called prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Natural suppressors help keep a fine balance between an active or overactive immune response.

PGE2 and other prostaglandins, bountiful in the reproductive tract during pregnancy, are thought to help keep a woman's immune system from attacking the fetus as foreign. But it's possible that the high levels may also leave women and their developing fetuses more vulnerable to certain microbes.

"From this research, we are learning about how PGE2 regulates reproductive-tract immunity. Because prostaglandins are made in abundance in the pregnant uterus and have already been implicated in infections, we are increasingly realizing their potent immune regulatory actions," Aronoff says.

"Since infections are a great cause of illness and death in pregnancy, this seems to be a very ripe area to study in efforts to develop better preventive and therapeutic strategies against the complications of pregnancy."


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Contact: Anne Rueter
arueter@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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