Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to a woman’s susceptibility to develop pre-eclampsia. History of pre-eclampsia in a woman’s or her spouse’s family increases the risk for the disease, and the heritability of pre-eclampsia is estimated to be over 0.5. In addition to maternal genes, also the fetal genome influences the risk of pre-eclampsia via placenta. Our group aims to identify genetic variants predisposing to pre-eclampsia on a population level as well as in pre-eclampsia families.
The semi-allograft foeto-placental unit poses a unique challenge to the maternal immune system. Immunological mechanisms in pre-eclampsia may involve a non-classical-type incompatibility. Maintaining clearance of complement and phagocytes, controlling the potentially destructive effects of complement on the placenta-foetal tissues is of central importance for a healthy pregnancy. In collaboration with Professor Seppo Meri’s group (HU) we study the role of the complement system in pre-eclampsia by genetic case-control studies and placental studies.
Pre-eclampsia is known to have consequences for the long-term health of the mother and her child. In particular, a well-established association exists between pre-eclampsia and an increased risk of later-life cardiovascular diseases. Women with a history of pre-eclampsia have at least double the risk of a future cardiovascular event in comparison to healthy controls, and the risk increases with severity of the disease. The mechanisms are not completely understood but may be dependent on the variation in the underlying maternal cardiovascular risk profiles. There are very little long-term data on morbidity and mortality of fathers. We study the impact of pre-eclampsia on long-term cardiovascular health in women and children with a history of pre-eclampsia and their partners using clinical data and data from the national registries.
The Finnish Genetics of Pre-eclampsia Consortium (FINNPEC) is a cross-sectional case-control multicentre study to investigate and search genetic markers predisposing to pre-eclampsia, with particular focus on detailed clinical characterisation of pre-eclampsia phenotypes.
The Prediction and Prevention of Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction (PREDO) study is a prospective, multicentre study of Finnish women who were pregnant between 2005 and 2009 and their children. The PREDO study cohort was set up to identify novel risk factors and biomarkers in pregnant women associated with the development of preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).