A gene associated with susceptibility to Preeclampsia is identified in the May issue of Nature Genetics, explaining why this condition runs in families. Preeclampsia is a common and serious complication of pregnancy, involving elevated blood pressure and impaired kidney function.
Cees Oudejans and colleagues found that the majority of individuals with Preeclampsia had received variants of a particular gene from their mother, and suggest that this variant functions less well than most other forms of the gene. Intriguingly, only the maternal copy of this gene is expressed in the placenta during the critical stage in which it invades the lining of the uterus, explaining why the process is so sensitive to loss of this gene’s function.
The loss of appropriate function of this gene in the placenta is suggested as a cause of Preeclampsia.
The study included 67 cases of Preeclampsia amongst families with two or more affected sisters, identified from databases within 22 hospitals in the Netherlands.
Preeclampsia Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The exact cause of preeclampsia has not been identified. Numerous theories of potential causes exist, including genetic, dietary, vascular (blood vessel), and autoimmune factors. None of the theories have yet been proven.
Preeclampsia occurs in approximately 8% of all pregnancies. Increased risk is associated with first pregnancies, advanced maternal age, African-American women, multiple pregnancies, and women with a past history of Diabetes, hypertension, or kidney disease.
More info: Preeclampsia
Cees Oudejans (VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Revision date: July 9, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD