Variations in levels of messenger RNA may help predict postpartum depression, Elizabeth Tracey reports


Extracellular vesicles, or small balloon like structures, are released from both maternal and fetal cells during pregnancy, where they serve a communication function between mom and baby. Sarven Sabunciyan and colleagues at Johns Hopkins have also found they’re associated with postpartum depression.

Sabunciyan: Postpartum depression is a disease associated with pregnancy so we said let’s take a look. We looked at blood samples from moms during pregnancy and up to six months following the baby was born. Postpartum depression usually starts out about two weeks after. We isolated the extracellular vesicles, we isolated the mRNA that they contained. There were these really big differences between women who went on to develop postpartum depression as opposed to those who didn’t.  :31

Sabunciyan notes that the vesicles are also involved in some transfer of immunity from mother to baby. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.