Disruptions in cellular mother-baby communication during pregnancy may result in a host of ills, Elizabeth Tracey reports


During pregnancy cells from the mom’s side of the placenta communicate with those of the baby, and from baby to mom, using tiny structures known as vesicles. Now a Johns Hopkins team, including researcher Sarven Sabunciyan, has found that measurable blood markers that indicate disruption of this process may predict postpartum depression.

Sabunciyan: When this process goes wrong there’s disease. Things like pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and preterm births are associated with these extracellular vesicle levels changing or being altered. Based on that we rationalized why don’t we look at this in postpartum depression?  The exciting thing about this is that we think this could be a good way of predicting who’s going to develop postpartum depression. These are actually very big differences that we’re seeing.  :29

Sabunciyan says levels of these markers can be assessed using a simple blood test and hopes to scale the technique for screening. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.