The Daniele Hermann ‘cœur de femmes’ research program: encouraging results in the area of pre-eclampsia

In a ceremony at the Institut de France in June 2016, Daniel Vaiman, Director of research at Inserm 1, along with his team, was awarded the first ‘Danièle Hermann cœur de femmes program’ research grant for their cutting-edge research into pre-eclampsia, a serious pregnancy disorder.

Deux années plus loin, cette bourse prestigieuse dotée d’un montant de 50 000 euros a permis à Daniel Vaiman d’obtenir des résultats encourageants et conforte la Fondation Recherche Cardio-Vasculaire dans son objectif : poursuivre et financer une recherche spécifique au cœur des femmes.

Pre-eclampsia is a major pregnancy-related condition. It affects 2 to 8% of pregnancies, sometimes with fatal consequences for baby and mother. Pre-eclampsia is characterized by gestational hypertension and proteinuria, and makes a significant contribution to endothelial dysfunction arising from placental abnormalities which affect the mother’s organ systems via the circulatory system. The pathological consequences of pre-eclampsia over the duration of the pregnancy are a major research topic for researchers interested in this illness. However, study into the possible long-term consequences of this condition has started to attract the attention of the research community, especially those specializing in the cardiovascular field. Epidemiological research has recently shown that women affected by pre-eclampsia during a pregnancy are more at risk of certain medical conditions in the longer-term than women who have had healthy pregnancies. This includes illnesses of the kidney, heart and vascular system. Cardiovascular dysfunction in women is still not studied as much as it should be and pre-eclampsia offers a very interesting avenue of research that is specifically focused on female subjects. The results gathered from a study of this subject could have a wider impact on our understanding of the specifics of women’s cardiovascular health.

Daniel Vaiman’s project centres around a mouse model of pre-eclampsia that has been in use since 2012. The study in question is based on a model of severe early-onset pre-eclampsia and high-throughput analysis of gene expression. As a result, it may be able to bring to the table certain previously-missing elements that could help us to better understand the effects and impact of this condition.

The results obtained so far have been encouraging and would seem to provide evidence for the hypothesis that in this model, pre-eclampsia causes long-term modifications to the cardiovascular system that could potentially lead to cardiovascular illness. Extending this research to a larger group of animals will help confirm these preliminary results and allow for a more in-depth exploration of the relevant molecular mechanisms.