BACKGROUND: Angiogenic placental growth factor (PlGF) concentrations rise during pregnancy, peaking at the end of midpregnancy. Low PlGF concentrations during pregnancy are associated with pregnancy complications with recognized later-life cardiovascular risk. We hypothesized that low PlGF concentrations, especially in midpregnancy, identify not only a subset of women at risk for pregnancy complications but also women with greater cardiovascular risk factor burden after pregnancy regardless of pregnancy outcome. METHODS: In a population-based prospective cohort study of 5475 women, we computed gestational age–adjusted multiples of the medians of early pregnancy and midpregnancy PlGF concentrations. Information on pregnancy complications (preeclampsia, small for gestational age, and spontaneous preterm birth) was obtained from hospital registries. Six years after pregnancy, we measured maternal systolic and diastolic blood pressures, cardiac structure (aortic root diameter, left atrial diameter, left ventricular mass, and fractional shortening), carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, and central retinal arteriolar and venular calibers. Blood pressure was also measured 9 years after pregnancy. RESULTS: Women were on average 29.8 (SD, 5.2) years of age in pregnancy, were mostly European (55.2%), and 14.8% developed a pregnancy complication. Quartile analysis showed that especially women with midpregnancy PlGF in the lowest quartile (the low-PlGF subset) had a larger aortic root diameter (0.40 mm [95% CI, 0.08–0.73]), left atrial diameter (0.34 mm [95% CI, −0.09 to 0.78]), left ventricular mass (4.6 g [95% CI, 1.1–8.1]), and systolic blood pressure (2.3 mmHg [95% CI, 0.93–3.6]) 6 years after pregnancy than women with the highest PlGF. Linear regression analysis showed that higher midpregnancy PlGF concentrations were associated with a smaller aortic root diameter (−0.24 mm [95% CI, −0.39 to −0.10]), smaller left atrial diameter (−0.75 mm [95% CI, −0.95 to −0.56]), lower left ventricular mass (−3.9 g [95% CI, −5.5 to −2.3]), and lower systolic blood pressure (−1.1 mmHg [95% CI, −1.7 to −0.46]). These differences persisted after the exclusion of women with complicated pregnancies. CONCLUSIONS: Women with low PlGF in midpregnancy have a greater aortic root diameter, left atrial diameter, and left ventricular mass and higher systolic blood pressure 6 and 9 years after pregnancy compared to women with higher PlGF, including women with uncomplicated pregnancies. The pathophysiological implications of lower PlGF concentrations in midpregnancy might provide insight into the identification of pathways contributing to greater cardiovascular risk factor burden.

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Keywords cardiovascular diseases ◼placenta growth factor ◼ pre-eclampsia ◼ pregnancy outcome ◼ risk factors
Persistent URL,
Series VSNU Open Access deal
Journal Circulation (Baltimore)
Benschop, H.A.M, Timmermans, S, Brown, Z.A, Roeters van Lennep, J.E, Jaddoe, V.W.V, Roos-Hesselink, J.W, … Gandley, R.E. (2019). Placental Growth Factor as an Indicator of Maternal Cardiovascular Risk After Pregnancy. Circulation (Baltimore), 139(14), 1698–1709. doi:10.1161/circulationaha.118.036632