THURSDAY, Jan. 6, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Cell-free RNA (cfRNA) signatures can track pregnancy progression and may allow early prediction of preeclampsia, according to a study published online Jan. 5 in Nature.

Morten Rasmussen, Ph.D., from Mirvie Inc. in South San Francisco, and colleagues examined the ability of plasma cfRNA to reveal patterns of normal pregnancy progression and determine the risk for developing preeclampsia before clinical presentation. Comprehensive transcriptome data were obtained from eight independent prospectively collected cohorts composed of 1,840 racially diverse pregnancies, and 2,539 banked plasma samples were analyzed retrospectively. A total of 524 samples (72 cases and 452 noncases) from two independent cohorts collected 14.5 weeks before delivery were included as preeclampsia data.

The researchers found that cfRNA signatures from a single blood draw tracked pregnancy progression at the placental, maternal, and fetal levels and predicted preeclampsia with 75 percent sensitivity and a 32.3 percent positive predictive value, which is superior to the state-of-the-art method. cfRNA signatures were independent of clinical factors, including maternal age, body mass index, and race. Gene features linked to biological processes implicated in the underlying pathophysiology of preeclampsia were identified in the cfRNA signature for preeclampsia.

“Looking at the progression of genes expressed in the mother and baby during pregnancy offers an entirely new way of characterizing their health that hasn’t been available up until now,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Early detection of disease using this approach will provide us with the distinct possibility of therapeutically addressing some of these conditions.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to Mirvie and the pharmaceutical industry. Several authors are inventors on patent applications that cover the detection, diagnosis, or treatment of pregnancy complications.

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