LUND2: The association between air pollution and preeclampsia

This study is performed at the Unit for Environmental Epidemiology at University of Lund.

Preeclampsia (PE) is one of the most serious pregnancy-related conditions. PE affects approximately 2–8% of all pregnancies. This state is characterized by hypertension, peripheral oedemas and signs of kidney damage with proteinuria. It is potentially life threatening. Usually, the disorder occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy and worsens over time. Air pollution may be an important risk factor for development of PE, but the mechanisms are unknown.

In the current project, placentas from a large and well-characterized cohort of Scandinavian women who live in areas with either low or high levels of air pollution will be profiled through state-of-the-art molecular methods. Unique to this project will be sampling of particulate pollution in the places, where the pregnancy took place. A battery of pollution data is available a can be matched with information about the pregnancy and delivery of the individual women. Potentially a connection between local pollution and incidence of PE can be documented.

This is followed by chemical characterization and screening of the effect of impurities in cell models, and later by the an in-vivo study of the major pollutants in a mouse model of PE. Exposure of pregnant mice to the specific particles will allow testing of the distribution and effects in both the mother and foetus body. Results will then be consolidated with human biology through statistical models to finally arrive at a new level of understanding of placental biology and PE. It will also provide new molecular biomarkers for PE which can be used in the future diagnosis and treatment of PE.

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