Preliminary lab results from a recent study showed that functionalized magnetic beads successfully reduced blood levels of sFlt-1, a molecule responsible for angiogenic imbalance and endothelial dysfunction that increases dramatically in women with preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia affects 6% to 8% of women who give birth in the United States each year, according to a press release. There is no cure for the condition, and symptoms can only be alleviated through childbirth and delivery of the placenta.
During pregnancy, the placenta releases sFlt-1 into the mother’s bloodstream. At high levels, sFlt-1 can cause blood vessel wall dysfunction, contribute to high BP and trap vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and placental growth factor (PlGF) molecules, which improve blood vessel wall function, according to the press release.
To attempt to reduce the amount of sFlt-1 while increasing the amount of PlGF in the blood, researchers created a specific and competitive apheresis approach that used magnetic beads grafted with ligands of sFlt-1 to compete with PlGF. The approach was designed to release PlGF molecules by pulling sFlt-1 out of circulation. VEGF was chosen to graft to beads due to its affinity for sFlt-1, which is more than 10 times greater than PlGF’s affinity to sFlt-1.
Researchers used dynamic conditions in a microfluid device to mimic real apheresis.
In plasma samples from pregnant women with preeclampsia, beads grafted with VEGF reduced sFlt-1 by 40% and doubled the initial quantity of PlGF, which decreased the sFlt-1/PlGF ratio by 63%. The beads also freed up VEGF that had been bound by sFLt-1.
“This was a proof of concept study and our approach aims to restore physiologic levels of angiogenic factors,” Vassilis Tsatsaris, MD, PhD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Cochin Hospital in Paris, said in the press release. “The reduction of sFlt-1 and the release of angiogenic factors is very significant and promising.”
Due to the positive results of early laboratory testing, researchers hope to expand the study and repeat their experiments to determine if the approach could control preeclampsia symptoms and prolong pregnancy. – by Erin Michael
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.