Bioanalysis Zone

Novel RNA biomarkers may enable the early diagnosis of preeclampsia


Researchers from the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University (Israel) have identified novel RNA biomarkers for preeclampsia. The study, published in Scientific Reports, provides hope for the potential of an early diagnostic blood test.

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that interferes with blood flow to the placenta, leading to a low birth weight, prematurity and potentially death. However, if preeclampsia is identified early, there is a simple treatment which involves the administration of low doses of aspirin from the 16th week of pregnancy.

“We sought a definitive biomarker that appears in a patient’s blood as early as the first trimester, before any symptoms appear,” study leader, Naom Shomron (Tel Aviv University), explained.

Shomron continued: “Our findings form the basis for a simple blood test that would predict preeclampsia and, in turn, allow doctors to provide treatment that would prevent the very onset of the disease.”

The team focused their research on blood samples collected in the first trimester of pregnancy from 35 women who eventually contracted preeclampsia and 40 women who completed their pregnancy in full health. They extracted and sequenced RNA molecules from the sample plasma using next generation sequencing.

“We identified 25 small RNA molecules that were differentially expressed between the preeclampsia and the control groups. Based on those RNA molecules, we then developed a model for the classification of preeclampsia samples,” explained Liron Yoffe (Tel Aviv University), co-author of the study.

“These findings indicate the predictive value of circulating small RNA molecules in the first trimester, and lay the foundation for producing a novel early non-invasive diagnostic tool for preeclampsia, which could reduce the life-threatening risk for both the mother and fetus,” Yoffe concluded.

Sources: Yoffe L, Gilam A, Yaron O et al. Early detection of preeclampsia using circulating small non-coding RNA. Sci. Rep. 8:3401 (2018);


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