24 October 2014
A team from Wayne State University School of Medicine has identified a new key signaling pathway, which could benefit a large number of women, according to findings published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The report provides new insight for the underlying causes of preeclampsia, which remains the leading cause of death for pregnant women and newborns. It is hoped that the new discovery will inspire future treatment.
Dr Nihar Nayak, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and principal investigator of the study, said the condition is still widely misunderstood. Although many studies have suggested that high levels of a certain protein - sFlt1 - contribute to the mother's heart problems characterised by preeclampsia, the "molecular underpinnings" of the protein have been unknown.
The new study - 'Endometrial VEGF induces placental sFLT1 and leads to pregnancy complications' - describes the "field-changing finding" that a vascular endothelial growth factor - VEGF - can stimulate the production of sFlt1 from the placenta and that this is involved in preeclampsia.
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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