What is the glycocalyx?
The glycocalyx is a sugar and protein rich layer that covers the lining of blood vessels.
- Just like the Teflon coating in pans that keeps food from sticking, blood vessels have a layer of protection , called the “glycocalyx”, that when damaged can make it sticky for red blood cells.
- Glycocalyx damage is linked to cardiovascular disease, infection and aging.
- We think that this protective coating may be thinner or disrupted in women who get sick with preeclampsia in pregnancy and this disruption may remain after pregnancy.
How will we assess the glycocalyx?
- The Window Study will use a technique that allows us to look at small blood vessels under the tongue using a tiny video camera (see Fig. 1).
- A sterile cap is placed around the camera tip for hygiene.
- During the measurement the camera tip is gently held under the tongue similar to taking your temperature (see Fig. 2).
- The camera uses a green light. By placing the camera gently under the tongue, it becomes possible to visualize the small vessels and to make a series of short video recordings (see Fig. 2 and 3). The measurement takes about 10 minutes.