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How does preeclampsia in pregnancy lead to early cardiovascular disease?

36 months
Approved budget:
Professor Larry Chamley
Dr Carolyn Barrett
Professor Katie Groom
Associate Professor Qi Chen
Dr Charlotte Oyston
Dr Sandy Lau
Dr Yourong Feng
Health issue:
Proposal type:
Lay summary
Preeclampsia is a disease of pregnancy that affects about 3000 New Zealand women every year. Women with preeclampsia develop high blood pressure during pregnancy because of a toxin released from the baby’s placenta. This toxin damages the cells that line mum’s blood vessels, which causes the increased blood pressure. After delivery, mum’s blood pressure drops, but women who had preeclampsia have persistent damage to their blood vessels and are much more likely to die early of cardiovascular disease, often within 10 years of their first pregnancy. We will use model systems to work out if the toxin that comes from the placenta is responsible for causing the lasting damage to maternal blood vessels and early death of affected women. If we show the placental toxin is causing lasting damage, this will allow us to investigate treatments for women who had preeclampsia, to prevent their early death from cardiovascular disease.