April 2013

Blood proteins may forewarn of pregnancy complications

apolipoprotein, figure courtesy of Wikipedia

No pregnant woman gets excited about invasive procedures. But for the diagnosis of some complications, pregnant women have to undergo procedures such as amniocentesis. Researchers have been aiming to come up with less invasive tests. In a paper in a recent issue of Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, scientists describe how a class of proteins can be tracked reliably in blood samples taken from pregnant women and found hints that changes in expression patterns of this class of proteins may indicate if a pregnant woman is at risk for premature delivery.
The class of proteins that Danielle Ippolito and colleagues at the Madigan Army Medical Center studied was apolipoproteins. “Apolipoproteins are lipid-transport proteins in plasma,” which, along with lipids and cholesterols, increase exponentially in pregnancy to support fetal development, explains Ippolito. Apolipoproteins exist stably in the blood plasma, suggesting they can be reliable indicators of different biological processes.
Ippolito says she, her colleagues and other researchers had found earlier that maternal plasma had different concentrations of apolipoprotein subtypes depending on whether or not the women developed preemclampsia. Based on that finding, the investigators reasoned that if they could track these various subtypes, they would be able to find proteins that signaled early on whether a pregnancy was going to be complicated.

MCP presents

Building upon proteomics to advance glycosciences

Cover of the April 2013 issue of the journal Molecular & Cellular ProteomicsThe April issue of Molecular & Cellular Proteomics offers a thematic review series on glycomics. Read the introduction by Lance Wells and Gerald W. Hart and nine other articles at www.mcponline.org.

To see if their hypothesis bore out, the investigators analyzed by mass spectrometry the plasma collected from women at different time points of their pregnancies. They found that modified subtypes of an apolipoprotein called Apo A-II were significantly higher in plasma from mothers who delivered preterm babies than those who didn’t.
Ippolito says that as the next step, her team intends “to analyze plasma from patients with different obstetric outcomes to compare apolipoprotein profile in patients who deliver without complications versus women who develop gestational diabetes, severe preeclampsia and preterm premature rupture of the membranes leading to premature birth.”

Rajendrani MukhopadhyayRajendrani Mukhopadhyay (rmukhopadhyay@asbmb.org) is the senior science writer and blogger for ASBMB. Follow her on Twitter (www.twitter.com/rajmukhop), and read her ASBMB Today blog, Wild Types.

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