Researchers at North Carolina State University have discovered that the placentas of women who suffer preeclampsia during pregnancy have an overabundance of a gene associated with the regulation of the body’s immune system.
“When we looked at the preeclampsic placentas, we found that several genes associated with a particular autoimmune pathway were ‘upregulated’ – basically, that there were more of them in placentas of preeclampsic women than in normal placentas,” Piedrahita says. "More specifically, we found the upregulation of a particular enzyme involved in sialic acid modification called SIAE. Sialic acid coats every cell in our body, making it possible for our immune system to distinguish ‘self’ from ‘not-self.’ If this process is disrupted, the body can end up attacking itself.”
The researchers were excited by this finding because SIAE has recently been linked to autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and type I diabetes.
Basically this small study supports the auto-immune theory of preeclampsia, and might help explain shallow placental implantation and the beginnings of the preeclampsia cascade.
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news ... 08944.html