Preeclampsia (PE) is a multisystem disorder characterized by de novo hypertension and proteinuria or superimposed to maternal hypertension or nephropathy in pregnant women who are usually beyond 20 weeks of gestational age.
Preeclampsia is generally diagnosed later in pregnancy, but new research could lead to diagnosis in the first trimester, improving care and potentially leading to the development of preventative measures.
Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine. It can lead to serious complications for the mother and baby, including reduced growth of the baby; seizures, stroke and multi-organ failure in the mother; or death of the mother or child. Often, the only cure is preterm delivery. New research to be presented at Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic Diseases: Physiology and Gender reports that the protein copeptin can predict the development of preeclampsia as early as six weeks of gestation.
This development is significant, says lead investigator Mark Santillan, MD, because early identification of women at high risk of developing preeclampsia will enable health care providers to quickly respond and provide the appropriate level of care. “Clinically, this timeframe is the earliest a woman can find out if she is pregnant by an over-the-counter pregnancy test. A similar simple test could be developed to predict preeclampsia via copeptin,” Santillan says.
Copeptin is a byproduct of the protein arginine vasopressin (AVP). The research, conducted at the University of Iowa, also found that pregnant mice given AVP throughout pregnancy showed all the cardiovascular, kidney, obstetrics and immune components of human preeclampsia. Together, the mouse and human data suggest that AVP is involved in initiating preeclampsia. Targeting its pathway could potentially treat, prevent and even cure preeclampsia, says Santillan.
Everyone need to know our Mission is to reduce maternal and infant illness and death due to preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy by providing patient support and education, raising public awareness, catalyzing research and improving healthcare practices. We envision a world where preeclampsia no longer threatens the lives of mothers and babies.