News / Health

Pregnancy Disorder Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease Protein

Jessica Berman

Researchers have identified a potential cause of a pregnancy disorder called preeclampsia, which is a leading cause of mother and newborn mortality around the world.  An international team of scientists has linked the condition to a protein that’s been implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

An estimated 75,000 women in the industrialized world die each year as a result of preeclampsia, a poorly understood pregnancy complication.  Many more women and babies die in the developing world, where the condition is difficult to spot in women who are not getting routine prenatal care.

That is because the initial symptoms can be subtle, a silent rise in blood pressure being the most common.  Untreated, the condition can lead to seizures, stroke, liver failure and death of both mother and child.  To treat preeclampsia, doctors will deliver the babies early.

Researchers have identified a potential cause - misfolded proteins, including amyloid precursor protein and beta-amyloid - which are also found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.  

Investigators, led by Center for Perinatal Research Director Irina Buhimschi of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio, discovered the malformed proteins clogging the placentas, or birth sacs, of women who developed preeclampsia.

“A lot of proteins need to be placed in different places," she said. "There are many proteins that are made de novo - by the placenta, by the baby that need to be excreted.   So the organism of the mother has an extra load to take care of."

Buhimschi says preeclampsia usually strikes women during their first pregnancy, possibly because their bodies have not adapted to carrying a child.

She says if they are abnormal, the misfolded proteins cannot travel easily between mother and child and they back up in the placenta.

Buhimschi and colleagues got the idea to use a dye called Congo Red to look for the presence of the proteins in the urine of pregnant women.  The dye binds to abnormal protein material and was used for many years to detect amyloid plaques in the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s patients.

“If we think these women spill these misfolded proteins in urine, can we test the dye, which otherwise has never been used with the urine of women with preeclampsia, to see if those proteins also bind [to] Congo Red?  So we found that, yes, we could use it and transform it pretty much to [a] diagnostic test," she said.

Buhimshi says the Congo Red Dot urine test is highly accurate in detecting preeclampsia.  It is being tested in a number of countries, including South Africa and India.   

Researchers report their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine. 

You May Like

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid