Carbon Monoxide and Pregnancy: a Search for a Possible Therapeutic in the Treatment of Pre-Eclampsia
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Pre-eclampsia (PE) is a pregnancy disorder that affects roughly 5-7% of all pregnancies and is a leading cause of both maternal and fetal/neonatal morbidity and mortality. With no present cure for the disease, researchers are interested in the lower incidence of PE observed among the cigarette smoking pregnant population. However, women who use smokeless tobacco do not experience the same decreased incidence of PE, leading to hypothesis of protection against PE from the largest combustible product of cigarette smoke, carbon monoxide (CO). Studies evaluated levels of CO in PE women and found that they were statistically lower than those of healthy pregnancy. Researchers have found CO to possess many cytoprotective and regulatory properties and specifically within the placenta, it has been found to increase perfusion pressure, decrease oxidative stress, decreases ischemia/reperfusion induced apoptosis and maintain endothelial functioning. The idea for use of CO as a possible therapeutic for PE has thus become a real possibility. This study determined CO levels in pregnant women ± smoking as well as in PE women±smoking, as to discover a possible therapeutic range for future treatments. The best correlated automated CO measurement device with blood CO levels was determined, for use in future clinical studies. This thesis also sought a possible CO delivery concentration, in order to achieve the CO levels observed in the human correlation study. A threshold level of maternal CO exposure in a murine animal model was found, for which fetal and maternal negative toxicities were not observed. The results of this thesis lend a few more pieces to the complicated puzzle involving CO and PE and offer another step toward the possibility of a therapeutic treatment/prevention using this gaseous molecule.