UI preeclampsia researchers launch statewide study

Colorful test tubes

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Preeclampsia is a cardiovascular disorder that generally occurs late in pregnancy and causes high blood pressure leading to a number of complications. Preeclampsia affects between 5 and 7 percent of all pregnancies in the United States.


In 2015, preeclampsia researchers at the University of Iowa utilized the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Maternal Fetal Tissue Bank to make a groundbreaking discovery–maternal plasma copeptin is a clinically useful biomarker that can predict preeclampsia as early as six weeks into a woman’s pregnancy.

A year later, researchers have launched a statewide study to test their findings among a larger, more diverse population.

“PREDICTV is a new, population-based research study that allows us to collect blood and urine samples from pregnant women around the state,” study coordinator, Debra Brandt, PhD, says. “Currently, we have partnered with sites in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo.”

PREDICTV is one of three preeclampsia-related research projects funded by a four-year grant from the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA awarded the University of Iowa $3.7 million to participate in a national network dedicated to finding the causes and potential cures for high blood pressure.


"After collecting clinical data and samples from this study, we hope to provide a simple method to determine which women are at highest risk of developing preeclampsia as well as to diagnose preeclampsia,” says study director, Mark Santillan, MD, PhD.

The research lab is also working to identify the early factors that lead to the development of preeclampsia.

“The only known treatment option for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby, which can create immediate and potentially lifelong risks to both mother and baby,” says Donna Santillan, PhD, director of the Maternal-Fetal Tissue Bank. “Understanding early pathways may help us design new therapeutics to block or prevent the development of preeclampsia.”