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

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid