Researcher José Javier Reyes Lagos analyzed at experimental and clinical levels the cardiac electrical activity of women with low risk pregnancies, showing that it can be associated with an inflammatory response during labor.
During the research project carried out to obtain the degree of Doctor of Science in Biomedical Engineering from the Autonomous Metropolitan University, Reyes Lagos, who currently works as a full-time research professor at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM), also validated a series of mathematical algorithms developed by the UAM-I as an instrument to understand the origin of labor from an autonomic point of view.
The researcher explained that the main objective of his thesis, which was recognized with the 2017 Weizmann Award from the Mexican Academy of Sciences (AMC), was to determine the existence of an inflammatory response associated with the variability of heart rate during labor in women with low risk pregnancies (those without a complication that could trigger a preterm delivery).
Algorithms in an animal model
“The project was divided into two stages: an experimental one, where the algorithms were tested in an animal model; and a clinical stage, where measurements were made with a group of women during the last trimester of pregnancy and during labor”.
For the experiments conducted in animals, the researcher explained that it was proved, in collaboration with the University of Essen of Germany, that the algorithms were able to identify processes of systemic inflammation from the variability of the heart rate. The lipopolysaccharide was given to the rodents to induce a picture of systemic inflammation.
In a second stage, the effects of oxytocin-hormone (which produce contractions on the endometrium) were tested in rats with systemic inflammation. Through the analysis performed by the mathematical algorithms on the fluctuations of the heart rate, the researcher tried to observe if the oxytocin had an anti-inflammatory effect.
As a result of these studies, he determined that the algorithms were sensitive for the identification of inflammatory processes and that oxytocin did act as an inhibitor of the inflammatory process.
Based on these results, he advanced to the next stage. The clinical phase was carried out jointly with the Maternal and Child Research Center of the Birth Studies Group (Cimigen).
“This was a longitudinal study since measurements were taken of 20 women in two different stages of gestation. The first measurement was made when entering the third trimester of pregnancy, while the second was once they went to the clinic already with labor.”
In this phase of the project, blood inflammation markers were measured; anthropometric measures and electrocardiograms were taken and analyzed by the algorithms.
“To take the electrocardiograms, we used a portable computer that has five electrodes, these are placed in the abdomen of the mother to calculate their cardiac electrical activity and also the fetus’s one. Once the measurements are taken, the results are entered into the algorithm and the algorithm performs the corresponding analysis.”
The main finding of this research phase was that apparently labor is related to a process of systemic inflammation, and that this favors the birth of the product.
Finally, the researcher said that it will give continuity to this project and in a next stage he will carry out clinical tests in a group of women with predisposition to preterm delivery, that is, with health complications that can advance the birth. The objective will be to compare and analyze the results obtained with the information that was generated in the first two stages, in search of indicators that allow predicting if the delivery will reach its final stage or not, and even if it is of false labor.
Source: Agencia Informativa CONACYT