Protein Could Indicate Pregnancy Complications In First-Time Mothers
September 3, 2013

Protein Could Indicate Pregnancy Complications In First-Time Mothers

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Researchers have identified a new indicator to help predict whether or not women will be at risk of having pregnancy complications.

The team, which published their findings in the journal Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, identified proteins in the blood that could be used to predict whether a woman in her first pregnancy is at increased risk of developing pre-eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia is a complication where a mother develops high blood pressure and protein in her urine, potentially causing a serious condition for both mother and baby. The only cure of the condition is for the baby to be delivered.

Women who have faced this complication are at a higher risk of recurrence and are closely monitored during pregnancy. However, scientists have not had a way of determining who is at high risk in first-time mothers, until now.

Scientists analyzed samples collected as part of the international SCOPE study at 15 weeks of pregnancy, which was during a period before any clinical signs of pre-eclampsia develop. They were able to identify proteins that differed for women who developed the condition and those who did not.

Three of the proteins were studied in a larger number of pregnant women using a new method that allowed the levels of several proteins to be measured at once. Two proteins were shown to be at least as good a predictor of disease risk as the current best marker.

The researchers said they believe their findings could have a significant impact for identifying pre-eclampsia in first-time mothers.

"We hope that these two new markers will be of benefit in the future for women at risk from pre-eclampsia to allow early intervention and/or closer monitoring," said Dr Jenny Myers, from the Institute of Human Development at The University of Manchester and the Maternal and Fetal Heath Research Centre at Saint Mary's Hospital. "We also hope to understand the biology of the disease better by determining why these proteins are higher in women with pre-eclampsia and whether they have a role in the development of the placenta."

Dr Richard Unwin, from the Centre for Advanced Discovery and Experimental Therapeutics (CADET) at the Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, said the team has developed a suite of laboratory methods to help identify and begin to validate real disease markers from patient blood samples before symptoms show. He said they hope to continue applying their methods to other major diseases.