Platelet Receptors Associated With Eclampsia

Researchers studying eclampsia, a dangerous condition in pregnant women, have found a link to the sudden increase in blood pressure that accompanies it. Eclampsia is a condition that causes seizures and can force early delivery of the baby, sometimes endangering the lives of both mother and child. In addition to the rise in blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, which precedes the condition, is also marked by swelling, weight gain and protein in the urine. Pre-eclampsia occurs in about 5 percent of pregnant women and the exact cause is not known.

This study was carried out at the Pharmacology and Toxicology Institute in Wuerzburg, Germany. They studied platelets, which are small non-nucleated bodies found in the blood. They are smaller than the blood cells and are involved in the clotting of the blood. The platelets from 34 women, 19 of whom had pre-eclampsia were studied. In the platelets from the women with pre-eclampsia, two normally separate receptors on the surface of the cells were fused together. These receptors respond to different chemicals in the bloodstream and cause blood vessels to narrow. The combined receptors result in the women becoming hypersensitive to the chemicals leading to the rise in blood pressure.

These findings provide a plausible explanation for hypertension in pre-eclampsia and it may lead to earlier diagnosis of pre-eclampsia, which precedes the condition. As a result of this finding, new ways are being launched to develop ways to make an early diagnosis of pre-eclampsia, based on the presence of this combined, or fused, receptor.

Source: Nature Medicine.

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