Horne AW. J Clin Endocrinol Metab.
With the identification of serum placental growth as a
diagnostic biomarker for early pregnancy location and outcome, a test allowing
for earlier detection of ectopic pregnancy may be on the horizon.
“Finding a simple and cost-effective test using
biomarkers to diagnose ectopic pregnancies would have a significant impact on
reducing emotional distress and unnecessary deaths,” Andrew Horne,
PhD, of the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, said in a press
release. “Our study shows that placental growth factor, a key molecule in
the formation of blood vessels, is a promising novel diagnostic biomarker for
Results from a tissue and serum analysis conducted by
Horne and colleagues indicated that placental growth factor appeared
significantly reduced in trophoblast cells from women with tubal ectopic
pregnancies compared with women with miscarriages or viable intrauterine
The researchers also reported that the serum placental
growth factor was undetectable in women with tubal ectopic pregnancies and
those with miscarriages compared with women with viable intrauterine
pregnancies (P<.01). The placental growth factor assay, however, was
able to distinguish a tubal ectopic pregnancy from a miscarriage in three
cases, despite similar human chorionic gonadotropin concentrations.
Data also demonstrated localization of placental growth
factor protein to cytotrophoblast cells, according to the researchers.
The study cohort included 15 women aged 18 to 45 years
who underwent surgical termination of pregnancy, 10 who underwent surgical
management of embryonic missed miscarriage and 15 who underwent surgical
management of tubal pregnancy.
“The inevitable multiple visits and tests that are
currently necessary to diagnose ectopic pregnancies are a sizable expense for
health services,” said Horne. “Serum [placental growth factor] may be
the answer to the urgent unmet need for a biomarker for tubal ectopic pregnancy
that allows quicker diagnosis and facilitates earlier and less invasive
treatment. Large-scale studies are now required to determine its clinical