Maternal soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1, placental growth factor, plasminogen activator inhibitor-2, and folate concentrations and early fetal size: the Generation R study

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Fetal growth is dependent on adequate development of the placenta. Impaired angiogenesis and vasculogenesis in early pregnancy compromises placental and embryonic development. The proteins soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase (sFlt)-1, placental growth factor (PlGF), and plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-2, and the B vitamin folate are determinants of placental development. This study aims to identify associations between these maternal biomarkers and early fetal size.


From a prospective birth cohort study in The Netherlands, 1491 pregnant women were selected for this study. At a mean gestational age (GA) of 12.4 weeks (SD 0.8) maternal venous blood samples were obtained to determine the concentrations of sFlt-1, PlGF, PAI-2, and folate. Early fetal size was assessed with measurement of the crown-to-rump length (CRL) at a mean of 12.4 weeks' GA (SD 0.8). Analyses were performed using multivariable linear regression analyses with the biomarkers (continuous, quintiles) as regressors and CRL as main outcome measure.


Linear trend analysis showed positive associations between maternal sFlt-1 (P < .001), PlGF (P = .042), PAI-2 (P < .001), and folate (P = .039) and CRL. These associations were independent of GA, maternal age, height, body mass index, ethnicity, fetal sex, parity, educational level, smoking, and folic acid supplement use (folate not adjusted).


sFlt-1, PlGF, PAI-2, and folate are positively associated with first-trimester fetal size.

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