-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers who have
spotted specific genetic mutations associated with preeclampsia in
women with certain autoimmune diseases say their findings may
eventually lead to new tests and treatments.
Preeclampsia -- a dangerous condition marked by protein in the
urine and high blood pressure during pregnancy -- complicates 4
percent to 5 percent of all pregnancies worldwide. If untreated, it
threatens the health and lives of both mothers and babies.
Women with the autoimmune diseases systemic lupus erythematosus
(SLE) and antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) are at increased risk for
preeclampsia. This study included 250 pregnant women with either
lupus or APS. Thirty of the women developed preeclampsia during the
study, and 10 more had experienced preeclampsia during a previous
The researchers focused on specific genes [complement regulatory
proteins membrane cofactor protein, or MCP, factor I and factor H]
and found that seven of the 40 women had a mutation in one of these
In addition, mutations in MCP or factor I were found in five of
59 women who did not have an autoimmune disease but who developed
"Our findings underscore the important role of complement activation in preeclampsia, define mutations and likely mechanisms for increased risk in patients with SLE and/or APS, and suggest new targets for treatment of this important public health problem that, thus far, has defied reliable prediction and satisfactory intervention," wrote Jane Salmon, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, and colleagues.
The study appears in this week's issue of
The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human
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