Hormone discovery opens path for new pre-eclampsia treatment

From A*STAR Research Highlights, January 29, 2018 (not bylined):

A hormone secreted by the placenta during pregnancy may play a key role in the development of pre-eclampsia; a major worldwide cause of maternal and fetal death.

A*STAR researchers first discovered the hormone, called ELABELA, or ELA, in 2013 and showed, in zebrafish, that it was essential for normal embryonic development of the heart and cardiovascular system. Further work revealed that, in mammals, ELA was produced by the placenta, and when administered to rats and mice, caused their blood pressure to drop.

“So if you consider the two — a hormone specifically expressed in the placenta, that has blood pressure-lowering properties — one would expect that its absence would trigger gestational hypertension, a key symptom of pre-eclampsia,” says Bruno Reversade, research director at the A*STAR Institute of Medical Biology. Read more. 

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