Pre-eclampsia is characterised by hypertension and proteinuria in late pregnancy and can be life threatening. It is associated with events in early pregnancy resulting in abnormal embryo implantation, but the mechanisms are not well understood.
US researchers studied a mouse model of pre-eclampsia and found upregulated levels of uterine cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 and interleukin-15 in early pregnancy. This was associated with decreased levels of decidual natural killer cells, known to be essential for normal embryo implantation.
A single dose of the COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib at the time of implantation reversed these effects, and improved fetal growth and late gestational hypertension in mothers.
Reporting in JCI Insight (online, 17 March 2016)
, the researchers conclude that COX-2 inhibition in early pregnancy should be explored as a way to prevent pre-eclampsia.