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Zietchick Research Institute: Low levels of pregnancy hormones are linked to eye disease in preemies

Industry: Medical

A scientific study, whose principal investigator is Dr. Tammy Movsas of Zietchick Research Institute, was published online on September 19, 2019 by the prestigious medical journal Pediatric Research—the official publication of the American Pediatric Society, the European Society for Paediatric Research and the Society for Pediatric Research. The article is indexed in pubmed-- free search engine accessing the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. Within a few months time, the study will be published in its print journal as well. The study is entitled “The postnatal presence of human chorionic gonadotropin in preterm infants and its potential inverse association with retinopathy of prematurity.

Plymouth, MI (PRUnderground) November 5th, 2019

The team at Zietchick Research Institute measured levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the blood of 113 premature infants at one week and one month after birth. All the infants in the study were born in the State of Michigan.   The amount of hCG in infant blood is so low that the investigators utilized special technology called Mesoscale Discovery Platform (MSD) to make the measurement. This technology can quantitate hormone levels to as little as one billionth of a gram.

hCG is also known as the pregnancy hormone since it is the hormone that is measured to make the diagnosis of pregnancy.  It is produced in large quantities during pregnancy by the placenta.  The research team found that infants, who are born prematurely, produce their own hCG after birth.  This had not been known before.  This finding will open new investigations into the role of hCG in infant development. Over the decades, scientists had suspected that this hormone participated in human development but its role has never been defined.

The Zietchick team also found that preemies with lower levels of hCG had greater odds of developing retinopathy of prematurity, also known as ROP—a serious eye disease which can negatively impact vision.  Each year, over 20,000 infants around the world become blinded from this eye disease and even greater numbers than that develop visual handicaps.  The results of this study will inspire the development of new treatments for the prevention of this eye disease.  In addition, premature infants with ROP are at greater risk of developing other developmental disorders as well. Future studies will examine whether low levels of hCG are related to the development of lung, brain and intestinal disorders in addition to eye disease.

The reference for the published article detailing the discoveries by Zietchick Research Institute is:

The postnatal presence of human chorionic gonadotropin in preterm infants and its potential inverse association with retinopathy of prematurity. Movsas TZ, Paneth N, Gewolb IH, Lu Q, Cavey G, Muthusamy A. Pediatr Res. 2019 Sep 19.. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 31537012

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