Can a process of cellular communication between mom and baby during pregnancy underlie postpartum depression? Elizabeth Tracey reports


There’s a lot of communication going on between mom and baby during pregnancy, and some of that is cellular. Sarven Sabunciyan and colleagues at Johns Hopkins have been looking at one specific form of communication that’s disrupted in postpartum depression.

Sabunciyan: (Sarven) We looked at this thing called extracellular RNA communication. Cells release these things called extracellular vesicles. They’re little rafts or vessels that carry RNA, protein, and potentially DNA cargo between cells. So this is a way that cells can signal or communicate with each other. This process seems to be very important during pregnancy. Cells of the placenta in the mom are able to communicate with the cells of the baby so there’s signaling going back and forth.  :31

Sabunciyan says this process also helps develop a form of immunity for the fetus before birth. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.