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Circulating maternal placental growth factor responses to low-molecular-weight heparin in pregnant patients at risk of placental dysfunction.

Accepted version
Peer-reviewed

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Article

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Authors

McLaughlin, Kelsey 
Hobson, Sebastian R 
Chandran, Anjana Ravi 
Agrawal, Swati 
Windrim, Rory C 

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Patients at high risk of severe preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction have low circulating levels of placental growth factor and features of maternal vascular malperfusion placental pathology at delivery. Multimodal screening and commencement of aspirin prophylaxis at 11 to 13 weeks' gestation markedly reduces the risk of preterm delivery with preeclampsia. However, the additional role of low-molecular-weight heparin and mechanisms of action remain uncertain. Because low-molecular-weight heparin augments the production and release of placental growth factor in vitro by both placental villi and vascular endothelium, it may be effective to suppress the risk of severe preeclampsia in a niche group of high-risk patients with low circulating placental growth factor in the early second trimester. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to define a gestational age-specific reference range for placental growth factor and to test the hypothesis that prophylactic low-molecular-weight heparin administered in the early second trimester may restore deficient circulating placental growth factor levels and thereby prolong pregnancy. STUDY DESIGN: Centile curves for circulating placental growth factor levels from 12 to 36 weeks' gestation were derived using quantile regression of combined data from a published cohort of 4207 unselected nulliparous patients in Cambridge, United Kingdom, at 4 sampling time points (12, 20, 28, and 36 weeks' gestation) and the White majority (n=531) of a healthy nulliparous cohort in Toronto, Canada, at 16 weeks' gestation using the same test platform. Within a specialty high-risk clinic in Toronto, a niche group of 7 patients with a circulating placental growth factor at the <10th centile in the early second trimester received daily prophylactic low-molecular-weight heparin (enoxaparin; 40 mg subcutaneously) and were followed up until delivery (group 1). Their baseline characteristics, delivery details, and placental pathologies were compared with 5 similar patients who did not receive low-molecular-weight heparin during the observation period (group 2) and further with 21 patients who delivered with severe preeclampsia (group 3) in the same institution. RESULTS: A gestational age-specific reference range for placental growth factor levels at weekly intervals between 12 and 36 weeks was established for White women with singleton pregnancies. Within group 1, 5 of 7 patients demonstrated a sustained increase in circulating placental growth factor levels, whereas placental growth factor levels did not increase in group 2 or group 3 patients who did not receive low-molecular-weight heparin. Group 1 patients receiving low-molecular-weight heparin therapy exhibited a later gestation at delivery, relative to groups 2 and 3 (36 weeks [33-37] vs 23 weeks [22-26] and 28 weeks [27-31], respectively), and consequently had higher birthweights (1.93 kg [1.1-2.7] vs 0.32 kg [0.19-0.39] and 0.73 kg [0.52-1.03], respectively). The incidence of stillbirth was lowest in group 1 (14% [1 of 7]), relative to groups 2 and 3 (80% [4 of 5] and 29% [6 of 21], respectively). Maternal vascular malperfusion was the most common placental pathology found in association with abnormal uterine artery Doppler. CONCLUSION: In patients at high risk of a serious adverse pregnancy outcome owing to placental disease, the addition of low-molecular-weight heparin to aspirin prophylaxis in the early second trimester may restore deficient circulating placental growth factor to mediate an improved perinatal outcome. These data support the implementation of a multicenter pilot randomized control trial where patients are recruited primarily based on the assessment of placental function in the early second trimester.

Description

Keywords

biomarkers, fetal growth restriction, placental pathology, preeclampsia/eclampsia, treatment/management, Adult, Anticoagulants, Biomarkers, Birth Weight, Cohort Studies, Female, Gestational Age, Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Pilot Projects, Placenta Growth Factor, Pre-Eclampsia, Pregnancy, Pregnancy, High-Risk, Premature Birth

Journal Title

Am J Obstet Gynecol

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0002-9378
1097-6868

Volume Title

Publisher

Elsevier BV
Sponsorship
Medical Research Council (G1100221)
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) (RG52380)
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) (unknown)
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) (146281)
Medical Research Council (G1100221/1)