146a microRNA and PPCM
In 2007, Denise Hilfiker-Kleiner, a German researcher, showed that a prolactin fragment known as 16K-PRL which is produced in the heart, attacks the blood vessels and the heart tissues. One treatment to reduce the risk of death in women affected by peripartum cardiomyopathy has been to prevent the production of prolactin by treatment with drugs.The prolactin inhibiting drugs however also stop the production of breast milk.
The 16k-PRL prolactin fragment destroys the blood vessels, and on the other it releases microRNAs which in turn destroy the cells of the heart muscle and it is the subject of research to develop a treatment for PPCM, that iinvolves blocking the 146a-microRNAs, thus enabling mothers to continue to breast-feed their babies without any risk despite the appearance of peripartum cardiomyopathy.
It appears that the 146a-microRNA that has a role to play in the development of PPCM. As seen in the diagram below (click on link), numerous microvesicles can be seen in the cardiomyocytes that are surrounded by 146a-microRNA.
The discovery of microRNAs and the important role they play in biological processes is relatively recent, there are as yet no anti-microRNAs available on the market. Animal studies have found that by injected mice that developed enlarged hearts with microRNA antagonists (anti-microRNAs), the normal traits of the mice were restored.
This leads points to the role of microRNA levels in the development of peripartum cardiomyopathy and research is continuing on anti-microRNAs that could see a more effective treatment for PPCM.
Despite, these advances unless women are diagnosed and receive treatment, they will continue to die from pregnancy induced heart failure.