Enzyme of the fat metabolism to protect against gestational diabetes
Diabetes is one of the most common comorbidities in pregnancy. It poses an increased health risk to both the expectant mother and the unborn child. Researchers have now found that an enzyme in the lipid metabolism could protect mother and child in gestational diabetes from damage to health.
One of the most common concomitant diseases of pregnancy
Gestational diabetes is one of the most common concomitant diseases of pregnancy, although this sugar metabolism disorder can also have adverse effects on the later life of mother and child. Researchers from Austria have now discovered a mechanism that could protect the placenta and the unborn child in gestational diabetes. The study results were recently published in the journal "Nature Scientific Reports".
Effects on the later life of mother and child
About five percent of all pregnancies in Europe are accompanied by the occurrence of gestational diabetes.
Although the disease can often be brought under control through a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, it can also have an impact on the later life of mother and child.
Both increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus or other metabolic disorders later in life.
However, this risk for the mother can be significantly reduced by "changing the lifestyle after pregnancy", writes the German Diabetes Society in a patient guideline.
In addition to weight normalization, this also includes a lot of exercise or sport and a healthy, balanced diet with a low fat content, lots of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
To quench your thirst, you need to rely on water instead of sugary drinks or soft drinks.
Protein could protect the placenta and unborn baby
As part of a scientific work, a research group from the University Clinic for Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical University of Graz (Austria) has attempted to understand those mechanisms in the womb that negatively or positively affect the unborn child in gestational diabetes.
The scientists around Assoz.-Prof. PD Mag. Dr. Christian Wadsack have studied a protein that may protect the mother cake (the placenta) and the unborn child in gestational diabetes and counteract pathological changes.
The protein “lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (LpPLA2)” has already been well studied in diseases such as arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), but there is controversy as to whether its activity tends to favor inflammatory processes or counteract them.
Enzyme activity was increased
"Little is known about the regulation of its production and activity," said Christian Wadsack in a statement from the university.
Since LpPLA2 is almost exclusively produced by immune cells, so-called macrophages, in the present study macrophages were isolated and cultivated from the placenta of women with gestational diabetes and from healthy pregnant women.
"It was shown that cells from diabetic placentas showed more LpPLA2 enzyme activity, even without stimulation," said the expert.
Subsequently, the cells were then stimulated with stimuli as they occur physiologically in an inflammatory, diabetic microenvironment.
It was shown that a high insulin level and high concentrations of inflammatory messenger substances increased the enzyme activity. Conversely, enzyme activity decreased when the cells were exposed to anti-inflammatory messengers.
It is unclear whether new findings can be transferred to adults
Because LpPLA2 is transported in the bloodstream of lipoproteins, such as "bad" LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or "good" HDL (high-density lipoprotein), it was suspected that its positive or negative effects in inflammation could depend on the carrier .
"Since the unborn or newborn has the HDL as lipoprotein, we wanted to find out how the enzyme affects the functional properties of the HDL," said Wadsack explaining the researchers' goal.
It was interesting to observe that LpPLA2 activity was increased in the blood of newborns from diabetic pregnancies.
In order to show that this increased enzyme activity also influences the properties of HDL, an inhibitor was used - a substance that inhibits LpPLA2 so that it cannot exert its effects.
This showed that HDL-LpPLA2 firstly has an anti-oxidative effect, i.e. counteracts oxidative stress. Second, HDL-LpPLA2 apparently supports the barrier function of those cells that line our blood vessels.
"LpPLA2 may protect the vessels in the placenta and in the child from pathological changes that often occur in diabetes," concludes lead author Carolin Schliefsteiner, who ran the study as part of her dissertation.
LpPLA2 bound to HDL appears to have an anti-inflammatory, protective effect, at least in the newborn.
It is still unclear whether these findings can also be transferred to adults, for example diabetics with vascular diseases or arteriosclerosis patients. (ad)