Placental Function An Epidemiological and Magnetic Resonance Study
Abstract: Placental function is central for normal pregnancy and in many of the major pregnancy disorders. We used magnetic resonance imaging techniques to investigate placental function in normal pregnancy, in early and late preeclampsia and in intrauterine growth restriction. We also investigated maternal body mass index and height, as risk factors for preeclampsia.A high body mass index and a short maternal stature increase the risk of preeclampsia, of all severities. The association seems especially strong between short stature and early preeclampsia, and a high body mass index and late preeclampsia. (Study I)Using diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging, we found that the placental perfusion fraction decreases with increasing gestational age in normal pregnancy. Also, the placental perfusion fraction is smaller in early preeclampsia, and larger in late preeclampsia, compared with normal pregnancies. That these differences are in opposite directions, suggests that there are differences in the underlying pathophysiology of early and late preeclampsia. (Study II)Using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, we found that the phosphodiester spectral intensity fraction and the phosphodiester/phosphomonoester spectral intensity ratio increases with increasing gestational age. Also, we found that the phosphodiester spectral intensity fraction and the phosphodiester/phosphomonoester spectral intensity ratio are higher in early preeclampsia, compared with early normal pregnancy. These findings indicate increased apoptosis with increasing gestational age in normal pregnancy, and increased apoptosis in early preeclampsia. (Study III)The placental perfusion fraction is smaller in intrauterine growth restriction than in normal pregnancy. Fetal growth, Doppler blood flow in maternal and fetal vessels, infant birth weight and plasma markers of placental function are all correlated to the placental perfusion fraction. The placental perfusion fraction examination seems therefore to offer a fast, direct estimate of the degree of placental dysfunction. (Study IV)In conclusion: Our findings in studies I-III all support the hypothesis of partly different pathophysiology between early and late preeclampsia, and suggest a strong link between early preeclampsia and placental dysfunction. Study IV shows that the placental perfusion fraction has potential to contribute to the clinical assessment of placental dysfunction.
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