Preeclampsia is the development of swelling, increased blood pressure, rapid weight gain and proteinuria during pregnancy. The cause of the condition, which occurs in around 5% of pregnant women, is unknown. Preeclampsia leads to eclampsia (seizures during pregnancy) and the only treatment option at the moment is delivery of the baby.
Reporting in the September issue of Nature Medicine (Vol. 7, No. 9, Sep 01), a team of German scientists has made a discovery about the molecular mechanisms that may underlie preeclampsia. Platelets of the blood have been widely used as a model to examine maternal conditions in pregnancy, so Ursula Quitterer and colleagues at the Pharmacology and Toxicology Institute in Würzburg, examined the status of two receptors on the surface of platelets-angiotensin II, (AT1) and bradykinin, (B2)-in pregnant women with normal blood pressure and in women with preeclampsia.
They found that in women with preeclampsia, the two receptors were fused together, and the resulting AT1-B2 heterodimer had an increased the responsiveness to angiotensin II, which raises blood pressure, and was unresponsive to oxidants that can lower blood pressure.
Dr. Ursula Quitterer
Institut für Pharmakologie und Toxikologie
Tel: +49 0931284541
Fax: +49 09312603708
Dr Dave Lodwick
Lecturer in Molecular Biology
Division of Medicine and Therapeutics
Department of Medicine
University of Leicester
Robert Kilpatrick Clinical Sciences Building
Leicester Royal Infirmary
PO Box 65
Leicester LE2 7LX
Phone: +44 116 252 3190
Fax: +44 116 252 3273
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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