Obstetrics and Gynaecology - Research Publications

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    Associations Between Soluble fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase-1 and Placental Growth Factor and Disease Severity Among Women With Preterm Eclampsia and Preeclampsia
    Hastie, R ; Bergman, L ; Walker, SP ; Kaitu'u-Lino, T ; Hannan, NJ ; Brownfoot, F ; Schell, S ; Harper, A ; Cannon, P ; Cluver, CA ; Tong, S (WILEY, 2022-08-16)
    Background The angiogenic factors soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1) and placental growth factor (PlGF) are postulated to be pathogenic disease drivers of preeclampsia. If true, then circulating levels should become more deranged with increasing disease severity. Methods and Results We investigated the association between circulating sFlt-1 and PlGF levels and severe adverse maternal outcomes among 348 women with preeclampsia. Compared with 125 women with preeclampsia without severe features, 25 women with preeclampsia and any of hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count syndrome, disseminated intravascular coagulation, or severe renal involvement had sFlt-1 levels that were 2.63-fold higher (95% CI, 1.81-3.82), sFlt-1/PlGF levels that were 10.07-fold higher (95% CI, 5.36-18.91) and PlGF levels that were 74% lower (adjusted fold change, 0.26 [95% CI, 0.18-0.39]). Compared with 125 women with preeclampsia without severe features, 37 with eclampsia had sFlt-1 levels that were 2-fold higher (2.02 [95% CI, 1.32-3.09]), sFlt-1/PIGF levels that were 4.71-fold higher (95% CI, 2.30-9.66) and PIGF levels that were 63% lower (0.43-fold change [95% CI, 0.27-0.68]). Compared with those without severe features, preeclampsia with severe hypertension (n=146) was also associated with altered angiogenic levels (sFlt-1, 1.71-fold change [95% CI, 1.39-2.11]; sFlt/PlGF, 2.91 [95% CI, 2.04-4.15]; PlGF, 0.59 [95%CI 0.47-0.74]). We also found that sFlt-1 and PlGF levels were altered by the number of maternal complications experienced. Conclusions Further angiogenic imbalance among women with preeclampsia is likely a pathogenic disease driver responsible for the life-threatening maternal complications.
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    Time to resolution of tubal ectopic pregnancy following methotrexate treatment: A retrospective cohort study.
    Davenport, MJ ; Lindquist, A ; Brownfoot, F ; Pritchard, N ; Tong, S ; Hastie, R ; Garzon, S (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2022)
    OBJECTIVE: To determine the time to resolution of tubal ectopic pregnancy after methotrexate treatment. METHODS: A 14-year retrospective cohort study was performed from 2004-2018 and assessed 216 women treated with single-dose methotrexate for tubal ectopic pregnancy. Women were treated using a single-dose protocol of intramuscular methotrexate (50mg/m2) for confirmed tubal ectopic pregnancy on ultrasound. Ectopic pregnancies were included if the ectopic pregnancy mass was <35mm, no evidence of rupture and no embryonic cardiac activity. Serum hCG was measured on day 1, 4 and 7 of treatment and then at standard weekly intervals until resolution. Where there was not a ≥15% decline in hCG from day 4 and day 7, a second dose of methotrexate was administered. The primary outcome was time to resolution (days), with serum hCG <5 IU/L considered resolved. The secondary outcome was need for rescue surgery. RESULTS: Among women who did not proceed to surgery, the median time to resolution was 22 days (IQR 14,34). Time to resolution and need for rescue surgery increased with baseline hCG. When hCG was <1000 IU/L, the median was 20 days (IQR 13,29) but 34.5 days (IQR 22,48) with hCG >2000 IU/L. Early hCG trends were predictive of time to resolution and likelihood of rescue surgery; a hCG rise of >1000 IU/L between Days 1-4 increased time to resolution to 61 days (IQR 35,80) and an odds ratio of rescue surgery of 28.6 (95% C.I. 5.3,155.4). CONCLUSION: The median time to resolution for ectopic pregnancies treated with methotrexate is 22 days and associated with baseline hCG levels. The predictive value of baseline hCG may be useful in clinical decision making and counselling women considering methotrexate for ectopic pregnancy.
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    Cerebral biomarkers in neurologic complications of preeclampsia.
    Bergman, L ; Hastie, R ; Bokström-Rees, E ; Zetterberg, H ; Blennow, K ; Schell, S ; Imberg, H ; Langenegger, E ; Moodley, A ; Walker, S ; Tong, S ; Cluver, C (Elsevier BV, 2022-08)
    BACKGROUND: There is no tool to accurately predict who is at risk of developing neurologic complications of preeclampsia, and there is no objective method to determine disease severity. OBJECTIVE: We assessed whether plasma concentrations of the cerebral biomarkers neurofilament light, tau, and glial fibrillary acidic protein could reflect disease severity in several phenotypes of preeclampsia. Furthermore, we compared the cerebral biomarkers with the angiogenic biomarkers soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1, placental growth factor, and soluble endoglin. STUDY DESIGN: In this observational study, we included women from the South African Preeclampsia Obstetric Adverse Events biobank. Plasma samples taken at diagnosis (preeclampsia cases) or admission for delivery (normotensive controls) were analyzed for concentrations of neurofilament light, tau, glial fibrillary acidic protein, placental growth factor, soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1, and soluble endoglin. The cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of inflammatory markers and albumin were analyzed in a subgroup of 15 women. Analyses were adjusted for gestational age, time from seizures and delivery to sampling, maternal age, and parity. RESULTS: Compared with 28 women with normotensive pregnancies, 146 women with preeclampsia demonstrated 2.18-fold higher plasma concentrations of neurofilament light (95% confidence interval, 1.64-2.88), 2.17-fold higher tau (95% confidence interval, 1.49-3.16), and 2.77-fold higher glial fibrillary acidic protein (95% confidence interval, 2.06-3.72). Overall, 72 women with neurologic complications (eclampsia, cortical blindness, and stroke) demonstrated increased plasma concentrations of tau (2.99-fold higher; 95% confidence interval, 1.92-4.65) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (3.22-fold higher; 95% confidence interval, 2.06-5.02) compared with women with preeclampsia without pulmonary edema; hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count; or neurologic complications (n=31). Moreover, angiogenic markers were higher, but to a lesser extent. Women with hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count (n=20) demonstrated increased plasma concentrations of neurofilament light (1.64-fold higher; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-2.55), tau (4.44-fold higher; 95% confidence interval, 1.85-10.66), and glial fibrillary acidic protein (1.82-fold higher; 95% confidence interval, 1.32-2.50) compared with women with preeclampsia without pulmonary edema; hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count; or neurologic complications. There was no difference shown in the angiogenic biomarkers. There was no difference between 23 women with preeclampsia complicated by pulmonary edema and women with preeclampsia without pulmonary edema; hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count; or neurologic complications for any of the biomarkers. Plasma concentrations of tau and glial fibrillary acidic protein were increased in women with several neurologic complications compared with women with eclampsia only. CONCLUSION: Plasma neurofilament light, glial fibrillary acidic, and tau were candidate biomarkers for the diagnosis and possibly prediction of cerebral complications of preeclampsia.
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    PSG7 and 9 (Pregnancy-Specific beta-1 Glycoproteins 7 and 9): Novel Biomarkers for Preeclampsia
    Kandel, M ; MacDonald, TM ; Walker, SP ; Cluver, C ; Bergman, L ; Myers, J ; Hastie, R ; Keenan, E ; Hannan, NJ ; Cannon, P ; Nguyen, T-V ; Pritchard, N ; Tong, S ; Kaitu'u-Lino, TJ (WILEY, 2022-04-05)
    Background Preeclampsia is pregnancy specific, involving significant maternal endothelial dysfunction. Predictive biomarkers are lacking. We evaluated the biomarker potential, expression, and function of PSG7 (pregnancy-specific β-1 glycoprotein 7) and PSG9 (pregnancy-specific β-1 glycoprotein 9) in preeclampsia. Methods and Results At 36 weeks gestation preceding term preeclampsia diagnosis, PSG7 and PSG9 (in Australian cohorts of n=918 and n=979, respectively) were significantly increased before the onset of term preeclampsia (PSG7, P=0.013; PSG9, P=0.0011). In samples collected at 28 to 32 weeks from those with preexisting cardiovascular disease and at high risk of preeclampsia (Manchester Antenatal Vascular Service, UK cohort, n=235), both PSG7 and PSG9 were also significantly increased preceding preeclampsia onset (PSG7, P<0.0001; PSG9, P=0.0003) relative to controls. These changes were validated in the plasma and placentas of patients with established preeclampsia who delivered at <34 weeks gestation (PSG7, P=0.0008; PSG9, P<0.0001). To examine whether PSG7 and PSG9 are associated with increasing disease severity, we measured them in a cohort from South Africa stratified for this outcome, the PROVE (Preeclampsia Obstetric Adverse Events) cohort (n=72). PSG7 (P=0.0027) and PSG9 (P=0.0028) were elevated among patients who were preeclamptic with severe features (PROVE cohort), but not significantly changed in those without severe features or with eclampsia. In syncytialized first trimester cytotrophoblast stem cells, exposure to TNFα (tumor necrosis factor α) or IL-6 (interleukin 6) significantly increased the expression and secretion of PSG7 and PSG9. In contrast, when we treated primary endothelial cells with recombinant PSG7 and PSG9, we only observed modest changes in Flt-1 (FMS-like tyrosine kinase-1) expression and Plgf (placental growth factor) expression, and no other effects on proangiogenic/antiangiogenic or endothelial dysfunction markers were observed. Conclusions Circulating PSG7 and PSG9 are increased before preeclampsia onset and among those with established disease with their production and release potentially driven by placental inflammation.
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    Low-Dose Aspirin for Preventing Birth of a Small-For-Gestational Age Neonate in a Subsequent Pregnancy.
    Hastie, R ; Tong, S ; Wikström, A-K ; Walker, SP ; Lindquist, A ; Cluver, CA ; Kupka, E ; Bergman, L ; Hesselman, S (Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health), 2022-04-01)
    OBJECTIVE: To estimate whether low-dose aspirin use is associated with an altered risk of delivering a small-for-gestational age (SGA) neonate among women with a history of having an SGA neonate in a prior pregnancy. METHODS: We performed a Swedish register-based cohort study including women in their second pregnancy who had a history of having an SGA neonate (birth weight less than the 10th percentile). The association between use of low-dose aspirin in subsequent pregnancy and birth of an SGA neonate or a severely SGA neonate (birth weight less than the third percentile) were estimated using inverse propensity-weighted estimation, accounting for potential confounders. RESULTS: Among 8,416 women who gave birth to an SGA neonate in their first pregnancy, 801 (9.5%) used low-dose aspirin during their second pregnancy. The incidence of SGA neonates was similar among women using low-dose aspirin (21.7%) and those who did not use aspirin (20.7%). Low-dose aspirin use in pregnancy was not associated with an altered risk of having an SGA neonate (adjusted relative risk [aRR] 0.86, 95% CI 0.67-1.10) or a severely SGA neonate (aRR 0.98, 95% CI 0.71-1.34). Given the strong association between preeclampsia and SGA, we performed subgroup analyses based on preeclampsia status. Among women who had an SGA neonate and co-existing preeclampsia in their first pregnancy, low-dose aspirin was not associated with an altered risk of having an SGA (aRR 0.83, 95% CI 0.63-1.10) or severely SGA (aRR 1.02, 95% CI 0.73-1.44) neonate. Additionally, no association was seen among women who developed preeclampsia in their second pregnancy. CONCLUSION: Among women with a history of having an SGA neonate, low-dose aspirin was not associated with a decreased risk of having an SGA or severely SGA neonate in subsequent pregnancy. These findings suggest that low-dose aspirin should not be used to prevent recurrent SGA.
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    Circulating SPINT1 Is Reduced in a Preeclamptic Cohort with Co-Existing Fetal Growth Restriction.
    Murphy, CN ; Cluver, CA ; Walker, SP ; Keenan, E ; Hastie, R ; MacDonald, TM ; Hannan, NJ ; Brownfoot, FC ; Cannon, P ; Tong, S ; Kaitu'u-Lino, TJ (MDPI AG, 2022-02-09)
    Fetal growth restriction (FGR), when undetected antenatally, is the biggest risk factor for preventable stillbirth. Maternal circulating SPINT1 is reduced in pregnancies, which ultimately deliver small for gestational age (SGA) infants at term (birthweight < 10th centile), compared to appropriate for gestational age (AGA) infants (birthweight ≥ 10th centile). SPINT1 is also reduced in FGR diagnosed before 34 weeks' gestation. We hypothesised that circulating SPINT1 would be decreased in co-existing preterm preeclampsia and FGR. Plasma SPINT1 was measured in samples obtained from two double-blind, randomised therapeutic trials. In the Preeclampsia Intervention with Esomeprazole trial, circulating SPINT1 was decreased in women with preeclampsia who delivered SGA infants (n = 75, median = 18,857 pg/mL, IQR 10,782-29,890 pg/mL, p < 0.0001), relative to those delivering AGA (n = 22, median = 40,168 pg/mL, IQR 22,342-75,172 pg/mL). This was confirmed in the Preeclampsia Intervention 2 with metformin trial where levels of SPINT1 in maternal circulation were reduced in SGA pregnancies (n = 95, median = 57,764 pg/mL, IQR 42,212-91,356 pg/mL, p < 0.0001) compared to AGA controls (n = 40, median = 107,062 pg/mL, IQR 70,183-176,532 pg/mL). Placental Growth Factor (PlGF) and sFlt-1 were also measured. PlGF was significantly reduced in the SGA pregnancies, while ratios of sFlt-1/SPINT1 and sFlt1/PlGF were significantly increased. This is the first study to demonstrate significantly reduced SPINT1 in co-existing FGR and preeclamptic pregnancies.
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    PSG9-A NOVEL BIOMARKER DERANGED IN PREECLAMPSIA
    Kandel, M ; Walker, S ; MacDonald, T ; Cluver, C ; Bergman, L ; Myers, J ; Hastie, R ; Keenan, E ; Cannon, P ; Nguyen, T-V ; Hannan, N ; Pritchard, N ; Tong, S ; Kaitu'u-Lino, T (W B SAUNDERS CO LTD, 2021-09-01)
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    Evidence of Neuroinflammation and Blood-Brain Barrier Disruption in Women with Preeclampsia and Eclampsia
    Bergman, L ; Hastie, R ; Zetterberg, H ; Blennow, K ; Schell, S ; Langenegger, E ; Moodley, A ; Walker, S ; Tong, S ; Cluver, C (MDPI, 2021-11-01)
    Cerebral complications in preeclampsia are leading causes of maternal mortality. Animal models suggest that an injured blood-brain barrier and neuroinflammation may be important but there is paucity of data from human studies. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate this in women with preeclampsia and eclampsia. We included women recruited to the South African Preeclampsia Obstetric Adverse Events (PROVE) biobank. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were collected around delivery. CSF was analyzed for neuroinflammatory markers interleukin 1β, interleukin 6, interleukin-8 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). The CSF to plasma albumin ratio was measured to assess blood-brain barrier function. Women with eclampsia (n = 4) showed increased CSF concentrations of all pro-inflammatory cytokines and TNF-alpha compared to women with normotensive pregnancies (n = 7) and also for interleukin-6 and TNF-alpha compared to women with preeclampsia (n = 4). Women with preeclampsia also showed increases in pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8 but not TNF-alpha in the CSF compared to women with normotensive pregnancies. In particular, women with eclampsia but also women with preeclampsia showed an increase in the CSF to plasma albumin ratio compared to normotensive women. In conclusion, women with preeclampsia and eclampsia show evidence of neuroinflammation and an injured blood-brain barrier. These findings are seen in particular among women with eclampsia.
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    Maternal lithium use and the risk of adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes: a Swedish population-based cohort study
    Hastie, R ; Tong, S ; Hiscock, R ; Lindquist, A ; Lindstroem, L ; Wikstroem, A-K ; Sundstroem-Poromaa, I (BMC, 2021-12-02)
    BACKGROUND: Lithium is prescribed during pregnancy, but there is limited information about pregnancy and neonatal outcomes following in utero exposure. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the associations between lithium use and adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes. METHODS: This population-based cohort study examined associations between maternal lithium use and major adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes via inverse probability weighted propensity score regression models. RESULTS: Of 854,017 women included in this study, 434 (0.05%) used lithium during pregnancy. Among pre-specified primary outcomes, lithium use during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of spontaneous preterm birth (8.7% vs 3.0%; adjusted relative risk [aRR] 2.64 95% CI 1.82, 3.82) and birth of a large for gestational age infant (9.0% vs 3.5%; aRR 2.64 95% CI 1.91, 3.66), but not preeclampsia nor birth of a small for gestational age infant. Among secondary outcomes, lithium use was associated with an increased risk of cardiac malformations (2.1% vs 0.8%; aRR 3.17 95% CI 1.64, 6.13). In an analysis restricted to pregnant women with a diagnosed psychiatric illness (n=9552), associations remained between lithium and spontaneous preterm birth, birth of a large for gestational age infant, and cardiovascular malformations; and a positive association with neonatal hypoglycaemia was also found. These associations were also apparent in a further analysis comparing women who continued lithium treatment during pregnancy to those who discontinued prior to pregnancy. CONCLUSIONS: Lithium use during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of spontaneous preterm birth and other adverse neonatal outcomes. These potential risks must be balanced against the important benefit of treatment and should be used to guide shared decision-making.
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    Circulating Growth Differentiation Factor 15 Is Increased Preceding Preeclampsia Diagnosis: Implications as a Disease Biomarker
    Cruickshank, T ; MacDonald, TM ; Walker, SP ; Keenan, E ; Dane, K ; Middleton, A ; Kyritsis, V ; Myers, J ; Cluver, C ; Hastie, R ; Bergman, L ; Garcha, D ; Cannon, P ; Murray, E ; Nguyen, T-V ; Hiscock, R ; Pritchard, N ; Hannan, NJ ; Tong, S ; Kaitu'u-Lino, TJ (WILEY, 2021-08-17)
    Background We investigated the biomarker potential of growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15), a stress response protein highly expressed in placenta, to predict preeclampsia. Methods and Results In 2 prospective cohorts (cohort 1: 960 controls, 39 women who developed preeclampsia; cohort 2: 950 controls, 41 developed preeclampsia), plasma concentrations of GDF-15 at 36 weeks' gestation were significantly increased among those who developed preeclampsia (P<0.001), area under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUC) of 0.66 and 0.71, respectively. In cohort 2 a ratio of sFlt-1/PlGF (a clinical biomarker for preeclampsia) had a sensitivity of 61.0% at 83.2% specificity to predict those who will develop preeclampsia (AUC of 0.79). A ratio of GDF-15×sFlt-1/PlGF yielded a sensitivity of 68.3% at 83.2% specificity (AUC of 0.82). GDF-15 was consistently elevated across a number of international cohorts: levels were higher in placenta and blood from women delivering <34 weeks' gestation due to preterm preeclampsia in Melbourne, Australia; and in the blood at 26 to 32 weeks' gestation among 57 women attending the Manchester Antenatal Vascular Service (MAViS, UK) who developed preeclampsia (P=0.0002), compared with 176 controls. In the Preeclampsia Obstetric adVerse Events biobank (PROVE, South Africa), plasma GDF-15 was significantly increased in women with preeclampsia with severe features (P=0.02; n=14) compared to controls (n=14). Conclusions We conclude circulating GDF-15 is elevated among women more likely to develop preeclampsia or diagnosed with the condition. It may have value as a clinical biomarker, including the potential to improve the sensitivity of sFlt-1/PlGF ratio.