Decoding the Role of Placental Macrophages in Preeclampsia

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Researchers in Birmingham are now investigating the potential role of placental macrophages in the development of preeclampsia. In a groundbreaking research initiative jointly supported by the University of Birmingham and Preeclampsia Foundation Canada, a comprehensive exploration of macrophages’ involvement in pregnancy complications is underway. The objective is to uncover novel therapeutic avenues and preventive measures for women at risk of developing preeclampsia.

This study involves a comparative analysis of macrophages, a specific type of white blood cell, within the placentas of women affected by preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome and those who are not. The aim is to enhance our comprehension of macrophage functionality in these contexts.

Maternal macrophages are key players in maintaining placental health. Unfortunately, in cases of preeclampsia, evidence suggests these cells become overactive, releasing inflammatory chemicals that potentially harm the placenta. Researchers aim to uncover novel approaches for treating and preventing this perilous pregnancy complication by unraveling the dysfunction of macrophages in affected women.

This research project receives support from the NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre, particularly through the Women’s Metabolic Health and Infection and Acute Care research themes. The recruitment of eligible women and the collection of blood and placenta samples are facilitated by the Research Midwives at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.

Dr Kylie Belchamber, Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, who is leading the study, said: “At the moment, we know very little about the role maternal macrophages play in the placenta. We want to know more about this in healthy pregnancy, and see how it changes in preeclampsia. We hope that in the long run this research will help to identify new treatments to prevent preeclampsia from developing in the first place.”

Along with Dr Kylie Belchamber, the project also involves Dr. Jennifer Tamblyn and Professor Shakila Thangaratinam from the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research and Professor Katie Morris from the Institute of Applied Health Research.


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