Women's Health

June 3, 2016

Pregnancy-related heart disorder clues

Vanderbilt researchers have identified biomarkers that could be useful for evaluating and treating pregnancy-related heart failure.

by Yan Su

Heart failure in women during late pregnancy or a few months after delivery, called Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM), is a leading cause of pregnancy-related, non-obstetric morbidity and mortality.

To understand the etiology of the disorder, Julie Damp, M.D., and colleagues from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and 29 other centers analyzed levels of potential biomarkers in serum from 98 newly diagnosed patients.

In the May issue of a journal of the American College of Cardiology, JACC: Heart Failure, they reported that higher levels of the hormone relaxin-2 were associated with early myocardial recovery, while patients with higher levels of the anti-angiogenic factor sFlt1 tended to have more severe clinical symptoms.

Relaxin-2 may play a cardioprotective role in PPCM. The findings suggested, in part, that recombinant human relaxin-2 (serelaxin) could help facilitate recovery.

The authors concluded that PPCM may be a disorder of vascular homeostasis. The biomarkers they studied may be useful in determining prognosis and as potential therapeutic drug targets for the disorder.

This research was funded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute contract RC1HL102429.

Send suggestions for articles to highlight in Aliquots and any other feedback about the column to aliquots@vanderbilt.edu