Dysfunctional mItochondria proVokes Inflammation iN prEeclampsia; a novel medical interventional target to improve maternal and foetal diagnosis in preeclampsia. Short title: DIVINE

Pre-eclampsia, a serious condition of late pregnancy, characterised by high blood pressure and proteinuria in the second-half of pregnancy, affects 5% of first time mothers and is associated with significant maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. A quarter of babies born to women with pre-eclampsia do not grow properly, and a third are born prematurely. Globally, 76,000 mothers and 500,000 infants die each year as a direct result of this condition. Currently there is no treatment for pre-eclampsia. Mitochondria are responsible for providing us with energy generated from our daily food intake. However, this process is complex and if it fails, by-products of the energy generating mitochondrial network can be stressful to our bodies, by increasing inflammation and blood pressure. We have generated data, which links mitochondrial dysfunction with pre-eclampsia. Furthermore, inflammation and high blood pressure are characteristic of conditions like pre-eclampsia and heart disease. Antioxidants found in vegetables and fruit can indirectly protect mitochondria.
This project is focused on a new therapy that is 100% directed towards protecting mitochondria and enabling them to work efficiently to generate a healthy placental environment for the growing baby. Initially we will measure levels of mitochondrial damage in the mother's blood to validate our previous work and quantify and relate these results with the level of inflammation and antioxidants during pre-eclampsia. We aim to investigate the therapeutic potential of mitochondrial-targeted antioxidants in rodent models of pre-eclampsia. In the clinical segment of the project we will merge our blood biomarker analysis with maternal and foetal clinical outcome data to improve our interpretation of mitochondrial dysfunction in the development of pre-eclampsia.
Our ultimate goal is to 1) develop new biomarkers to help identify the disorder and 2) provide an effective therapy for pre-eclampsia to improve the outcome of pregnancy for both mothers and babies.

Award Date
23 October 2015
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Louise Kenny
Host Institution
University College Cork
Health Research Awards