New findings may help explain high blood pressure in pregnancy

October 31, 2011, Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine researchers have discovered that the infiltration of white blood cells into an expectant mother's blood vessels may explain high blood pressure in pregnancy.

The findings could lead to novel avenues of treatment for pregnant women with preeclampsia based on regulation of white blood cells called neutrophilis, their products or their cellular effects.

Preeclampsia is one of the most significant health problems in pregnancy and a leading cause worldwide of both premature delivery and of sickness and death of the mother and baby. Research has shown that the blood vessels of women with preeclampsia are dysfunctional, but the cause of preeclampsia is not known, and the only treatment is delivery of the baby.

In a study published online in the October issue of Hypertension, a journal of the , the VCU team reported that an infiltration of white blood cells may be responsible for the high blood pressure observed in preeclampsia. These white blood cells release that the team showed enhance the reactivity of the mother's blood vessels to hypertensive hormones by activating the RhoA kinase pathway in the blood vessels. Read the study here.

According to corresponding author Scott W. Walsh, Ph.D., professor in the VCU Department of , the RhoA kinase pathway is an intracellular mechanism in the of blood vessels that makes the blood vessels more reactive to hormones that increase blood pressure.

"In other words, the blood vessels contract more easily to the hormones so blood pressure increases even though the hormone levels do not increase," said Walsh.

"These findings may explain the enhanced blood pressure response of women who develop preeclampsia, which was first described almost 40 years ago," he said.

Walsh said some potential treatments on the horizon for clinical studies are that could prevent the infiltration of the , and selective RhoA kinase inhibitors that could prevent the enhanced reactivity of the mother's blood vessels.

Explore further: Battle between the placenta and uterus could help explain preeclampsia

Related Stories

Battle between the placenta and uterus could help explain preeclampsia

October 11, 2011
A battle that brews in the mother's womb between the father's biological goal to produce the biggest, healthiest baby possible vs. the mother's need to live through delivery might help explain preeclampsia, an often deadly ...

Recommended for you

Rise in preterm births linked to clinical intervention

January 18, 2018
Research at the University of Adelaide shows preterm births in South Australia have increased by 40 percent over 28 years and early intervention by medical professionals has resulted in the majority of the increase.

New report calls into question effectiveness of pregnancy anti-nausea drug

January 17, 2018
Previously unpublished information from the clinical trial that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relied on to approve the most commonly prescribed medicine for nausea in pregnancy indicates the drug is not effective, ...

New study finds 'baby brain' is real, but the cause remains mysterious

January 15, 2018
So-called "baby brain" refers to increased forgetfulness, inattention, and mental "fogginess" reported by four out of five pregnant women. These changes in brain function during pregnancy have long been recognised in midwifery ...

Sleep quality improves with help of incontinence drug

January 12, 2018
A drug used to curtail episodes of urinary incontinence in women also improves quality of sleep, a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine reports.

Frozen embryos result in just as many live births in IVF

January 10, 2018
Freezing and subsequent transfer of embryos gives infertile couples just as much of a chance of having a child as using fresh embryos for in vitro fertilization (IVF), research from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Adelaide, ...

Study suggests air pollution breathed in the months before and after conception increases chance of birth defects

January 8, 2018
A team of researchers with the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital has found evidence that indicates that pre-and post-pregnant women living in an area with air pollution are at an increased risk of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.