Every year, thousands of women and babies die because of a condition called preeclampsia. This abnormal condition occurs during pregnancy and can continue during the immediate post-partum period. The primary signs and symptoms of preeclampsia are high blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy and excess protein in urine or proteinuria. Complications that can develop from preeclampsia include eclampsia or seizure activity, HELP syndrome, stroke, brain damage, multi-organ failure, and death.
Approximately one and 20 pregnant women will develop preeclampsia. To date, there is no treatment to cure preeclampsia during pregnancy. The only treatment for preeclampsia has been delivery, after which preeclampsia usually begins to resolve. However, the decision to deliver because of preeclampsia becomes complicated when diagnosed before the baby is full term.
Researchers in Germany have identified an abnormally high level of a particular enzyme called CYP2J2 in placental cells and the uterine lining in women with preeclampsia. An enzyme is a specialized protein that speeds up a certain chemical reaction. Abnormally high levels of the CYP2J2 enzyme appear to contribute to the development of preeclampsia. In animal experiments, preeclampsia symptoms improved when these abnormally high enzymes were suppressed. Thus, researchers seem to have identified the enzyme that contributes to preeclampsia and inhibiting this enzyme may reduce the harmful effects of preeclampsia.
This new research on preeclampsia may lead to new breakthroughs in how doctors diagnose and manage preeclampsia. If doctors are able to better diagnose and treat preeclampsia, we should see a reduction in the number of injuries and deaths that result from preeclampsia to mothers and/or their babies. In turn, this should also reduce the expense associated with preeclampsia complications, both in terms of medical costs and medical malpractice lawsuits.
Medical News Today, High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy - Enzyme Identified, November 25, 2012.
Pregnancy.org, Preeclampsia Foundation Home Page, Viewed November 27, 2012.