Publications by authors named "Anna L Middleton"

7 Publications

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Circulating Tissue Factor Pathway Inhibitor (TFPI) is increased preceding preeclampsia diagnosis and in established preeclampsia.

Placenta 2021 Feb 22;105:32-40. Epub 2021 Jan 22.

The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Australia; Mercy Perinatal, Mercy Hospital for Women, Victoria, Australia; Translational Obstetrics Group, Mercy Hospital for Women, 163 Studley Road, Heidelberg, 3084, Victoria, Australia. Electronic address:

Introduction: Tissue Factor Pathway Inhibitor (TFPI) is a part of the extrinsic coagulation pathway, and highly expressed in the placenta. We aimed to assess its potential as a preeclampsia biomarker.

Methods: Maternal plasma was prospectively collected at 36 weeks' gestation. Circulating TFPI was measured in a nested case-control group (39 women who developed preeclampsia, 98 controls), before being measured in a larger independent cohort along with Placental Growth Factor (PlGF; 41 who developed preeclampsia, 954 controls). Circulating TFPI was then measured in women with underlying vascular disease, and also assessed in the plasma and placentas from women with preterm preeclampsia (delivered at <34 weeks).

Results: Circulating TFPI was significantly increased in women destined to develop preeclampsia in the case-control study, a finding that validated in Cohort 2, with median TFPI in the preeclampsia group being 42.3 ng/ml (IQR 30-51 ng/ml) compared to 30 ng/ml (IQR 23.1-38.6 ng/ml) in controls (p < 0.0001). The area under the receiver operator characteristic curve (AUC) was 0.70. PlGF was significantly reduced in the preeclampsia group, and a ratio of TFPI/PlGF had an improved AUC of 0.78. In women with underlying vascular disease who were later diagnosed with early onset preeclampsia, circulating TFPI was significantly increased with a 0.29 (95% CI 0.13-0.44) increase in logTFPI (adjusted for gestation and hypertensive status). Circulating and placental TFPI were significantly increased in women with preterm preeclampsia.

Discussion: Circulating TFPI is increased in women preceding diagnosis of preeclampsia (at 36 weeks) and in women with preterm disease. TFPI may beneficially contribute to a multi-marker blood test to predict preeclampsia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.placenta.2021.01.018DOI Listing
February 2021

Reduced growth velocity from the mid-trimester is associated with placental insufficiency in fetuses born at a normal birthweight.

BMC Med 2020 12 24;18(1):395. Epub 2020 Dec 24.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Mercy Hospital for Women, 163 Studley Road, Heidelberg, VIC, 3084, Australia.

Background: Fetal growth restriction (FGR) due to placental insufficiency is a major risk factor for stillbirth. While small-for-gestational-age (SGA; weight < 10th centile) is a commonly used proxy for FGR, detection of FGR among appropriate-for-gestational-age (AGA; weight ≥ 10th centile) fetuses remains an unmet need in clinical care. We aimed to determine whether reduced antenatal growth velocity from the time of routine mid-trimester ultrasound is associated with antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal indicators of placental insufficiency among term AGA infants.

Methods: Three hundred and five women had biometry measurements recorded from their routine mid-trimester (20-week) ultrasound, at 28 and 36 weeks' gestation, and delivered an AGA infant. Mid-trimester, 28- and 36-week estimated fetal weight (EFW) and abdominal circumference (AC) centiles were calculated. The EFW and AC growth velocities between 20 and 28 weeks, and 20-36 weeks, were examined as predictors of four clinical indicators of placental insufficiency: (i) low 36-week cerebroplacental ratio (CPR; CPR < 5th centile reflects cerebral redistribution-a fetal adaptation to hypoxia), (ii) neonatal acidosis (umbilical artery pH < 7.15) after the hypoxic challenge of labour, (iii) low neonatal body fat percentage (BF%) reflecting reduced nutritional reserve and (iv) placental weight < 10th centile.

Results: Declining 20-36-week fetal growth velocity was associated with all indicators of placental insufficiency. Each one centile reduction in EFW between 20 and 36 weeks increased the odds of cerebral redistribution by 2.5% (odds ratio (OR) = 1.025, P = 0.001), the odds of neonatal acidosis by 2.7% (OR = 1.027, P = 0.002) and the odds of a < 10th centile placenta by 3.0% (OR = 1.030, P < 0.0001). Each one centile reduction in AC between 20 and 36 weeks increased the odds of neonatal acidosis by 3.1% (OR = 1.031, P = 0.0005), the odds of low neonatal BF% by 2.8% (OR = 1.028, P = 0.04) and the odds of placenta < 10th centile by 2.1% (OR = 1.021, P = 0.0004). Falls in EFW or AC of > 30 centiles between 20 and 36 weeks were associated with two-threefold increased relative risks of these indicators of placental insufficiency, while low 20-28-week growth velocities were not.

Conclusions: Reduced growth velocity between 20 and 36 weeks among AGA fetuses is associated with antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal indicators of placental insufficiency. These fetuses potentially represent an important, under-recognised cohort at increased risk of stillbirth. Encouragingly, this novel fetal assessment would require only one additional ultrasound to current routine care, and adds to the potential benefits of routine 36-week ultrasound.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-020-01869-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7758928PMC
December 2020

Appropriate-for-gestational-age infants who exhibit reduced antenatal growth velocity display postnatal catch-up growth.

PLoS One 2020 8;15(9):e0238700. Epub 2020 Sep 8.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Background: Postnatally, small-for-gestational-age (SGA; birthweight <10th centile) infants who are growth restricted due to uteroplacental insufficiency (UPI) demonstrate 'catch-up growth' to meet their genetically-predetermined size. Infants who demonstrate slowing growth during pregnancy are those that cross estimated fetal weight centiles at serial ultrasound examinations. These infants that slow in growth but are born appropriate-for-gestational-age (AGA; ≥10th centile), exhibit antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal indicators of UPI. Here, we examine if and when these infants (labelled as AGA-FGR) also demonstrate catch-up growth like SGA infants, when compared with AGA infants with normal antenatal growth velocity (AGA-NG).

Methods: We followed-up the infants of women who had previously undergone ultrasound assessment of fetal size at 28- and 36-weeks' gestation, enabling calculation of antenatal growth velocity. To assess postnatal growth, we asked parents to send their infant's growth measurements, up to two years post-birth, which are routinely collected through the state-wide Maternal-Child Health service. Infants with medical conditions affecting postnatal growth were excluded from the analysis. From the measurements obtained we calculated age-adjusted z-scores for postnatal weight, length and body mass index (BMI; weight(kg)/height(m2)) at birth and 4, 8, 12, 18 and 24 months. We used linear spline regression modelling to predict mean weight, length and BMI z-scores at intervals post birth. Predicted mean age-adjusted z-scores were then compared between three groups; SGA, AGA with low antenatal growth (AGA-FGR; loss of >20 customised estimated fetal weight centiles), and AGA-NG to determine if catch-up growth occurred. In addition, we compared the rates of catch-up growth (defined as an increase in weight age-adjusted z-score of ≥0.67 over 1 year) between the groups with Fisher's exact tests.

Results: Of 158 (46%) infant growth records received, 146 were AGA, with low antenatal growth velocity occurring in 34/146 (23.2%). Rates of gestational diabetes and SGA birthweight were higher in those lost to follow-up. Compared to AGA-NG infants, AGA-FGR infants had significantly lower predicted mean weight (p<0.001), length (p = 0.04) and BMI (p = 0.001) z-scores at birth. These significant differences were no longer evident at 4 months, suggesting that catch-up growth had occurred. As expected, the catch-up growth that occurred among the AGA-FGR was not as great in magnitude as that demonstrated by the SGA. When assessed categorically, there was no significant difference between the rate of catch-up growth among the AGA-FGR and the SGA. Catch-up growth was significantly more frequent among both the AGA-FGR and the SGA groups compared to the AGA-NG.

Conclusions: AGA infants that have exhibited reduced antenatal fetal growth velocity also exhibit significant catch-up growth in the first 12 months of life. This finding represents further evidence that AGA fetuses that slow in growth during pregnancy do so due to UPI.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0238700PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7478563PMC
October 2020

Circulating SPINT1 is a biomarker of pregnancies with poor placental function and fetal growth restriction.

Nat Commun 2020 05 15;11(1):2411. Epub 2020 May 15.

Translational Obstetrics Group, The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mercy Hospital for Women, University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, 3084, Victoria, Australia.

Placental insufficiency can cause fetal growth restriction and stillbirth. There are no reliable screening tests for placental insufficiency, especially near-term gestation when the risk of stillbirth rises. Here we show a strong association between low circulating plasma serine peptidase inhibitor Kunitz type-1 (SPINT1) concentrations at 36 weeks' gestation and low birthweight, an indicator of placental insufficiency. We generate a 4-tier risk model based on SPINT1 concentrations, where the highest risk tier has approximately a 2-5 fold risk of birthing neonates with birthweights under the 3, 5, 10 and 20 centiles, whereas the lowest risk tier has a 0-0.3 fold risk. Low SPINT1 is associated with antenatal ultrasound and neonatal anthropomorphic indicators of placental insufficiency. We validate the association between low circulating SPINT1 and placental insufficiency in two other cohorts. Low circulating SPINT1 is a marker of placental insufficiency and may identify pregnancies with an elevated risk of stillbirth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16346-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7228948PMC
May 2020

Screening circulating proteins to identify biomarkers of fetal macrosomia.

BMC Res Notes 2019 Sep 18;12(1):587. Epub 2019 Sep 18.

Translational Obstetrics Group, The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mercy Hospital for Women, University of Melbourne, 163 Studley Road, Heidelberg, Melbourne, VIC, 3084, Australia.

Objective: Fetal macrosomia is a major risk factor for shoulder dystocia, which can lead to birth asphyxia, maternal and neonatal traumatic injuries, and perinatal death. If macrosomia is diagnosed in the antenatal period, labour can be induced to decrease shoulder dystocia. But current clinical methods to diagnose fetal macrosomia antenatally perform with poor accuracy. Therefore, improved methods to accurately diagnose fetal macrosomia are required. Blood biomarkers that predict fetal macrosomia could be one such novel diagnostic strategy. We undertook a nested case-control study from a prospective collection of 1000 blood samples collected at 36 weeks' gestation. We analysed plasma samples from 52 women who subsequently delivered a macrosomic (> 95th centile for gestational age) infant and 106 controls. Circulating concentrations of the proteins COBLL1, CSH1, HSD3B1, EGFL6, XAGE3, S100P, PAPPA-1, ERBB2 were assessed for their ability to predict macrosomic infants.

Results: We did not identify any significant changes in the plasma concentrations of COBLL1, CSH1, HSD3B1, EGFL6, XAGE3, S100P, PAPPA-1, ERBB2 from women who subsequently delivered macrosomic neonates relative to control samples. Although we have not identified any potential biomarkers of fetal macrosomia, we have ruled out these particular eight protein candidates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13104-019-4625-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6749776PMC
September 2019

Assessing the sensitivity of placental growth factor and soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 at 36 weeks' gestation to predict small-for-gestational-age infants or late-onset preeclampsia: a prospective nested case-control study.

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2018 Aug 31;18(1):354. Epub 2018 Aug 31.

Mercy Perinatal, Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Background: Fetal growth restriction is a disorder of placental dysfunction with three to four-fold increased risk of stillbirth. Fetal growth restriction has pathophysiological features in common with preeclampsia. We hypothesised that angiogenesis-related factors in maternal plasma, known to predict preeclampsia, may also detect fetal growth restriction at 36 weeks' gestation. We therefore set out to determine the diagnostic performance of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 (sFlt-1), placental growth factor (PlGF), and the sFlt-1:PlGF ratio, measured at 36 weeks' gestation, in identifying women who subsequently give birth to small-for-gestational-age (SGA; birthweight <10th centile) infants. We also aimed to validate the predictive performance of the analytes for late-onset preeclampsia in a large independent, prospective cohort.

Methods: A nested 1:2 case-control study was performed including 102 cases of SGA infants and a matched group of 207 controls; and 39 cases of preeclampsia. We determined the diagnostic performance of each angiogenesis-related factor, and of their ratio, to detect SGA infants or preeclampsia, for a predetermined 10% false positive rate.

Results: Median plasma levels of PlGF at 36 weeks' gestation were significantly lower in women who subsequently had SGA newborns (178.5 pg/ml) compared to normal birthweight controls (326.7 pg/ml, p < 0.0001). sFlt-1 was also higher among SGA cases, but this was not significant after women with concurrent preeclampsia were excluded. The sensitivity of PlGF to predict SGA infants was 28.8% for a 10% false positive rate. The sFlt-1:PlGF ratio demonstrated better sensitivity for preeclampsia than either analyte alone, detecting 69.2% of cases for a 10% false positive rate.

Conclusions: Plasma PlGF at 36 weeks' gestation is significantly lower in women who subsequently deliver a SGA infant. While the sensitivity and specificity of PlGF currently limit clinical translation, our findings support a blood-based biomarker approach to detect late-onset fetal growth restriction. Thirty-six week sFlt-1:PlGF ratio predicts 69.2% of preeclampsia cases, and could be a useful screening test to triage antenatal surveillance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12884-018-1992-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6119271PMC
August 2018

Reduced growth velocity across the third trimester is associated with placental insufficiency in fetuses born at a normal birthweight: a prospective cohort study.

BMC Med 2017 08 31;15(1):164. Epub 2017 Aug 31.

Mercy Perinatal, Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne, Australia.

Background: While being small-for-gestational-age due to placental insufficiency is a major risk factor for stillbirth, 50% of stillbirths occur in appropriate-for-gestational-age (AGA, > 10th centile) fetuses. AGA fetuses are plausibly also at risk of stillbirth if placental insufficiency is present. Such fetuses may be expected to demonstrate declining growth trajectory across pregnancy, although they do not fall below the 10th centile before birth. We investigated whether reduced growth velocity in AGA fetuses is associated with antenatal, intrapartum and neonatal indicators of placental insufficiency.

Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study of 308 nulliparous women who subsequently gave birth to AGA infants. Ultrasound was utilised at 28 and 36 weeks' gestation to determine estimated fetal weight (EFW) and abdominal circumference (AC). We correlated relative EFW and AC growth velocities with three clinical indicators of placental insufficiency, namely (1) fetal cerebroplacental ratio (CPR; CPR < 5th centile reflects placental resistance, and blood flow redistribution to the brain - a fetal response to hypoxia); (2) neonatal acidosis after the hypoxic challenge of labour (umbilical artery (UA) pH < 7.15 at birth); and (3) low neonatal body fat percentage (BF%, measured by air displacement plethysmography) reflecting reduced nutritional reserve in utero.

Results: For each one centile reduction in EFW growth velocity between 28 and 36 weeks' gestation, there was a 2.4% increase in the odds of cerebral redistribution (CPR < 5th centile, odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence interval) = 1.024 (1.005-1.042), P = 0.012) and neonatal acidosis (UA pH < 7.15, OR = 1.024 (1.003-1.046), P = 0.023), and a 3.3% increase in the odds of low BF% (OR = 1.033 (1.001-1.067), P = 0.047). A decline in EFW of > 30 centiles between 28 and 36 weeks (compared to greater relative growth) was associated with cerebral redistribution (CPR < 5th centile relative risk (RR) = 2.80 (1.25-6.25), P = 0.026), and a decline of > 35 centiles was associated with neonatal acidosis (UA pH < 7.15 RR = 3.51 (1.40-8.77), P = 0.030). Similar associations were identified between low AC growth velocity and clinical indicators of placental insufficiency.

Conclusions: Reduced growth velocity between 28 and 36 weeks' gestation among fetuses born AGA is associated with antenatal, intrapartum and neonatal indicators of placental insufficiency. These fetuses potentially represent an important unrecognised cohort at increased risk of stillbirth and may warrant more intensive antenatal surveillance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-017-0928-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5577811PMC
August 2017