Abstract

Background Fetal growth restriction, i.e. the restriction of genetically predetermined growth potential due to placental dysfunction, is a major cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. The consequences of inadequate fetal growth can be life-long, but the risks can be reduced substantially if the condition is identified prenatally. Currently, screening strategies are based on ultrasound detection of a small-for-gestational age fetus and do not take into account the underlying vascular pathology in the placenta. Measurement of maternal circulating angiogenic biomarkers placental growth factor, sFlt-1 (soluble FMS-like tyrosine kinase-1) are increasingly used in studies on fetal growth restriction as they reflect the pathophysiological process in the placenta. However, interpretation of the role of angiogenic biomarkers in prediction of fetal growth restriction is hampered by the varying design, population, timing, assay technique and cut-off values used in these studies. Methods We conducted a systematic-review in PubMed (MEDLINE), EMBASE (Ovid) and Cochrane to explore the predictive performance of maternal concentrations of placental growth factor, sFlt-1 and their ratio for fetal growth restriction and small-for-gestational age, at different gestational ages, and describe the longitudinal changes in biomarker concentrations and optimal discriminatory cut-off values. Results We included 26 studies with 2514 cases with small-for-gestational age, 27 cases of fetal growth restriction, 582 cases mixed small-for-gestational age/fetal growth restriction and 29,374 reference. The largest mean differences for the two biomarkers and their ratio were found after 26 weeks of gestational age and not in the first trimester. The ROC-AUC varied between 0.60 and 0.89 with sensitivity and specificity matching the different cut-off values or a preset false-positive rate of 10%. Conclusions Most of the studies did not make a distinction between small-for-gestational age and fetal growth restriction, and therefore the small-for-gestational age group consists of fetuses with growth restriction and fetuses that are constitutionally normal. The biomarkers can be a valuable screening tool for small-for-gestational age pregnancies, but unfortunately, there is not yet a clear cut-off value to use for screening. More research is needed to see if these biomarkers are sufficiently able to differentiate growth restriction on their own and how these biomarkers in combination with other relevant clinical and ultrasound parameters can be used in clinical routine diagnostics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0004563219882042
Pages (from-to)44-58
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of Clinical Biochemistry
Volume57
Issue number1
Early online date23 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Biochemical markers
  • small-for-gestational age
  • fetal growth restriction
  • placenta
  • PLACENTAL GROWTH-FACTOR
  • TYROSINE KINASE 1
  • LATE-ONSET PREECLAMPSIA
  • UTERINE ARTERY DOPPLER
  • ANGIOGENIC FACTORS
  • FACTOR RECEPTOR-1
  • BIOCHEMICAL MARKERS
  • PREDICTIVE-VALUE
  • MATERNAL PLASMA
  • FACTOR RATIO

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