Altered Platelet Function in Intrauterine Growth Restriction: A Cause or a Consequence of Uteroplacental Disease?

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A limited number of platelet function studies in intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) have yielded conflicting results. We sought to evaluate platelet reactivity in IUGR using a novel platelet aggregation assay.

Study Design

Pregnancies with IUGR were recruited from 24 weeks' gestation (estimated fetal weight < 10th centile) and had platelet function testing performed after diagnosis. A modification of light transmission aggregometry created dose-response curves of platelet reactivity in response to multiple agonists at differing concentrations. Findings were compared with healthy third trimester controls. IUGR cases with a subsequent normal birth weight were analyzed separately.


In this study, 33 pregnancies retained their IUGR diagnosis at birth, demonstrating significantly reduced platelet reactivity in response to all agonists (arachidonic acid, adenosine diphosphate, collagen, thrombin receptor-activating peptide, and epinephrine) when compared with 36 healthy pregnancy controls (p < 0.0001). Similar results were obtained for cases demonstrating an increasing in utero growth trajectory. When IUGR preceded preeclampsia or gestational hypertension, platelet function was significantly reduced compared with normotensive IUGR.


Using this comprehensive platelet assay, we have demonstrated a functional impairment of platelets in IUGR. This may reflect platelet-derived placental growth factor release. Further evaluation of platelet function may aid in the development of future platelet-targeted therapies for uteroplacental disease.

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