Research could lead to a new test to predict risk of pregnancy complications
Researchers from Central Manchester
University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The University of
Manchester have identified proteins in the blood that could be used
to predict whether a woman in her first pregnancy is at increased
risk of developing pre-eclampsia.
Pre-eclampsia is a complication of pregnancy where the mother
develops high blood pressure and protein is present in the urine.
In some cases, this can develop into a serious condition for both
mother and baby and the only cure is delivery of the baby, often
Women who have had pre-eclampsia previously are at higher risk of
recurrence and are closely monitored during pregnancy, but there is
no way of determining who is at high risk in first-time
The researchers, led by Dr Richard Unwin and Dr Jenny Myers from
the Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, a partnership between
the Trust and the University analysed samples which had been
collected as part of the international SCOPE study at 15 weeks of
pregnancy - before any clinical signs of disease are present.
Proteins were identified which differed between those women who
developed pre-eclampsia and those who did not.
Three of these proteins were studied further in a larger number of
pregnant mothers using a new method that allows the levels of
several proteins to be measured at once. Two proteins, which have
not previously been linked to pre-eclampsia risk, were shown to be
at least as good a predictor of disease risk as the current best
marker, placental growth factor. These two new potential markers
are called pregnancy specific glycoprotein 5 and 9 (PSG5 and
The findings will have a significant impact for identifying the
condition in first time pregnancies, researchers believe.
Dr Jenny Myers, from the Institute of Human Development at The
University of Manchester and the Maternal and Fetal Heath Research
Centre at Saint Mary's Hospital, said: "We hope that these two new
markers will be of benefit in the future for women at risk from
pre-eclampsia to allow early intervention and/or closer
"We also hope to understand the biology of the disease better by
determining why these proteins are higher in women with
pre-eclampsia and whether they have a role in the development of
Dr Unwin, from the Centre for Advanced Discovery and Experimental
Therapeutics (CADET) at the Manchester Biomedical Research Centre,
said: "What we have also done here is to develop a suite of
laboratory methods which can identify and begin to validate real
disease markers from patient blood samples, even before symptoms
have developed, and we are hoping to continue applying these
methods to other major diseases, such as diabetes, Alzheimer's
disease or stroke."
The research, published in the journal Molecular and Cellular
Proteomics, also involved members from Manchester Academic Health
Science Centre (MAHSC) a partnership between the University and six
leading NHS Trusts which aim to help health care organisations reap
the benefits of research and innovation to drive improvements in
Notes for editors
Journal reference: Blankley RT, Fisher C, Westwood M, North
R, Baker PN, Walker MJ, Williamson AJ, Whetton AD, Lin W,
McCowan L, Roberts CT, Cooper GJS, Unwin RD* and Myers JE
(2013) A label-free SRM workflow identifies a subset of pregnancy
specific glycoproteins as novel putative predictive markers of
early-onset pre-eclampsia. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics. In
For more information about the SCOPE study, click here.