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Protein Molecules in blood predict preeclampsia development

ot in women with high levels of only one or the other."

Dr. Levine added that detecting high levels of both soluble endoglin and sFlt1 early in pregnancy might be especially helpful in predicting the later development of preeclampsia. Detecting high levels of these molecules might also help in distinguishing preeclampsia from chronic high blood pressure, kidney disease and other conditions that can produce symptoms similar to preeclampsia.

Dr. Levine said that both sFlt1 and soluble endoglin are referred to as soluble because they circulate in the bloodstream. Both molecules exist in a non-soluble form, attached to the surface of cells lining blood vessels. In this non-soluble form, they are classified as receptors because they serve as targets for other molecules. When molecules attach, or bind, to the receptors, the binding process initiates a chain of events in the cells. PlGF binds to Flt1 on the lining of blood vessels. Another substance, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) also binds to Flt1. This binding process is essential to keeping blood vessels healthy and maintaining normal blood pressure. Similarly, a molecule known as transforming growth factor beta (TGF beta) binds to endoglin, and this binding is also required to keep blood vessels healthy.

Dr. Levine explained that the prevailing theory holds that, when the placenta isn't able to absorb sufficient oxygen from the mother's blood, it begins secreting both sFlt1 and soluble endoglin into the mother's bloodstream. The sFlt1 binds to VEGF and PlGF and soluble endoglin binds TGF beta, diverting the compounds from the mother's blood vessels. In response, the mother's blood pressure rises, forcing more blood to the placenta. High levels of sFlt1 and soluble endoglin result in severe forms of preeclampsia.

"We've found specific molecules that appear to be causing the clinical signs of preeclampsia and so we now have an idea which molecules we would need to inter
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