Experts at Virgen del Rocío Hospital (Seville, Spain) have begun a study on pregnancy preeclampsia on a sample of 30 pregnant women with a view to demonstrating whether or not consumption of olive oil by this population group results in lower levels of cytotoxicity (for example, cholesterol) in endothelial cells (arterial wall cells).
Preeclampsia is the most common and dangerous pregnancy complication and, therefore, it needs to be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible. In the most severe cases it can endanger the life of the mother and the unborn child. Its symptoms are high blood pressure (hypertension, arterial hypertension) together with the presence of proteins in urine (proteinuria), as well as oedemas on the limbs.
Olive oil's blood pressure regulating properties are well known and through this study, within the excellence project Efecto postpandrial del aceite de oliva polifenoles sobre la citotoxicidad endotelial en mujeres con preclampsia en el embarazo (Postpandrial Effect of Olive Oil Polyphenols on Endothelial Cytotoxicity in Women with Pregnancy Preeclampsia) funded in the amount of €312,548.68 by the Regional Ministry of Innovation, the scientists seek to verify if the serum obtained from the patient's blood, following consumption of a breakfast that includes olive oil enriched with polyphenols, produces a greater reduction in the in vitro cytotoxicity of the arterial wall cells (endothelial cells and monocytes), compared to the situation following the same breakfast but poor in polyphenols.
On the other hand, the group at Virgen del Rocío also want to analyse the endothelial function (using Doppler laser measuring, among other techniques) in said population group after consumption of the same oil with different phenol compound contents; and to determine in vivo if the consumption of the same olive oil with different polyphenol content has any effect on the plasmatic biomarkers for oxidation stress, inflammation and protein expression.
The group headed by José Villar Ortiz has already accumulated clinical experience. "In the 90s," he affirms, "our group demonstrated that the consumption of virgin olive oil, compared to consumption of sunflower seed oil high in oleic acids, reduced arterial blood pressure in women with high blood pressure and normal levels of cholesterol and those with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels."
The sample populated will be obtained from the consultations at the Vascular Risk Experimental Clinical Unit at Virgen del Rocío University Hospital and will comprise 30 women of childbearing age and of the E3/3 genotype, who developed symptoms of preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy and whose blood pressure is currently normal.