Lack of a hormone in pregnant mice linked to preeclampsia

June 30, 2017 by Bob Yirka report
High magnification micrograph of hypertrophic decidual vasculopathy, as seen in pregnancy-induced hypertension. Credit: Wikipedia

(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers from Singapore, the Netherlands and Turkey has isolated a hormone in pregnant mice that appears to be associated with preeclampsia—a pregnancy-related condition characterized by high blood pressure and kidney problems. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes how they studied the hormone elabela in pregnant mice and their hope that their findings may lead to a treatment for preeclampsia in humans.

Preeclampsia is a very serious ailment for pregnant women—their rises quickly and dramatically and they experience buildup of a protein in their urine. Fortunately, the condition is not very common, occurring in just 5 to 8 percent of all pregnancies. But if not treated quickly, it can be fatal. In this new effort, the researchers report that they were studying the elabela to learn more about what it does in both mammals and fish. They found that the hormone was typically present in the placenta and in the bloodstreams of pregnant mice.

After wondering what might happen if the hormone were absent during pregnancy, they genetically altered some test mice and then observed what happened as they became pregnant. They report that the absence of the hormone resulted in vascular abnormalities in developing embryos and in placentas—both symptoms common with preeclampsia. That prompted the team to take a closer look at what was occurring—RNA analysis of placentas that lacked the hormone showed that suggested hypoxia conditions, which included expressions, prior research has shown, that are part of the blood vessel building process—another symptom common in women with preeclampsia. The group also tested the genetically altered and found that they had abnormal levels of protein in their urine and heightened blood pressure levels. Additionally, their pups were underweight—all symptoms of preeclampsia.

Excited by their findings, the team injected the hormone, replacing what had been lost, into the impacted test mice and found that their preeclampsia symptoms disappeared almost immediately. It is not clear if the same hormone, or lack of it, might play a role in preeclampsia in humans, but the team hopes to find out. If the work is transferable, it might finally provide a means for spotting a tendency toward for pregnant women, and possibly warding off the condition altogether.

Explore further: Increases in sFLT1 predict the onset of preeclampsia symptoms in mice

More information: Lena Ho et al. ELABELA deficiency promotes preeclampsia and cardiovascular malformations in mice, Science (2017). DOI: 10.1126/science.aam6607

Abstract
Pre-eclampsia (PE) is a gestational hypertensive syndrome affecting between 5 and 8% of all pregnancies. While PE is the leading cause of fetal and maternal morbidity/mortality, its molecular etiology is still unclear. Here, we show that ELABELA (ELA), an endogenous ligand of the apelin receptor (APLNR, or APJ), is a circulating hormone secreted by the placenta. Elabela but not Apelin knockout pregnant mice exhibit PE-like symptoms, including proteinuria and elevated blood pressure due to defective placental angiogenesis. In mice, infusion of exogenous ELA normalizes hypertension, proteinuria, and birth weight. ELA, which is abundant in human placentas, increases the invasiveness of trophoblast-like cells, suggesting that it enhances placental development to prevent PE. The ELA-APLNR signaling axis may offer a new paradigm for the treatment of common pregnancy-related complications, including PE.

Related Stories

Increases in sFLT1 predict the onset of preeclampsia symptoms in mice

June 6, 2016
Preeclampsia is a life-threatening pregnancy complication associated with high blood pressure and increased sensitivity to angiotensin II, a hormone that elevates blood pressure.

Potential treatment for pregnant women who suffer from preeclampsia found in a vitamin

December 15, 2016
Scientists in Japan and the US have found that vitamin B3 nicotinamide may help treat pregnant women who suffer from preeclampsia by preventing strokes and in some cases, even stimulating the growth of their fetus.

Stroke risk factors for pregnant women with preeclampsia uncovered

May 25, 2017
Women with preeclampsia, a common complication of pregnancy, face a heightened risk of stroke during pregnancy and postpartum if they have urinary tract infections, chronic high blood pressure, or clotting or bleeding disorders, ...

Screening for preeclampsia in pregnant women recommended

April 25, 2017
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for preeclampsia in pregnant women with blood pressure measurements throughout pregnancy. The report appears in the April 25 issue of JAMA.

Pre-pregnancy heart abnormalities may predict recurrent preeclampsia risk

February 22, 2016
Women who had pregnancy-related high blood pressure multiple times had recognizable heart abnormalities between pregnancies that could help predict their risk for heart and blood vessel disease during subsequent pregnancies ...

New biomarker predicts development of preeclampsia at six weeks of pregnancy

November 23, 2015
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.

Recommended for you

First time mums with an epidural who lie down more likely to have a normal birth

October 18, 2017
Adopting a lying down position rather than being upright in the later stages of labour for first-time mothers who have had a low dose epidural leads to a higher chance of them delivering their baby without any medical intervention, ...

Mice delivered by C-section gain more weight than those delivered naturally

October 11, 2017
Mice born by Caesarian section gained on average 33 percent more weight in the 15 weeks after weaning than mice born vaginally, with females gaining 70 percent more weight.

Study shows epidurals don't slow labor

October 10, 2017
Epidural analgesia - a mix of anesthetics and narcotics delivered by catheter placed close to the nerves of the spine - is the most effective method of labor pain relief. In widespread use since the 1970s, epidurals have ...

Progesterone does not prevent preterm birth or complications, says study

October 3, 2017
An increasingly popular hormonal "treatment" for pregnant women with a history of preterm birth does not work, a major new international study shows.

Study questions practice of placenta eating by new moms

September 29, 2017
(HealthDay)—You may have heard that some new mothers choose to eat their own placenta after childbirth. But there's no indication the trendy practice offers any health benefits, and some evidence it could prove dangerous, ...

Hope for couples suffering IVF miscarriage

September 20, 2017
Women who miscarry during their first full round of IVF are more likely to have a baby after further treatment than women who don't get pregnant at all.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nik_2213
not rated yet Jun 30, 2017
Does these mice' pre-eclampsia respond to magnesium supplements as in the human model ??
PPihkala
not rated yet Jul 03, 2017
I remember seeing report that this is caused by nutrient deficiency as proved by English doctor years ago. But because there is no money in supplements, the industry has ignored his research. The above news makes sense since missing hormone might need some nutrients to be present.

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.