Background: Fetal concentrations of GFAP and UCH-L1 are elevated in umbilical arterial (UmA) blood of neonates with birth asphyxia plus neonatal encephalopathy (NE), but their source and role of placental clearance/synthesis is unknown. Methods: Prospective cohort study of term neonates to (a) determine UmA and venous (UmV) blood concentrations of GFAP and UCH-L1 in term uncomplicated pregnancies and their placental synthesis and/or clearance and (b) compare UmA concentrations in uncomplicated pregnancies with those complicated by fetal hypoxia–asphyxia+NE. Three term groups were studied: uncomplicated cesarean delivery without labor (Group 1, n = 15), uncomplicated vaginal delivery with labor (Group 2, n = 15), and perinatal hypoxia–asphyxia+NE (Group 3, n = 8). Results: UmA GFAP concentrations were lower in Group 1 vs. 2 (P = 0.02) and both demonstrated 100% placental clearance. In contrast, UmA and UmV UCH-L1 concentrations were not unaffected by labor. Group 3 UmA GFAP concentrations were 30- and 8-fold higher than Groups 1 and 2, respectively, P = 0.02, whereas UmA UCH-L1 concentrations were similar in all groups. Conclusions: UmA GFAP is derived from the fetus, and circulating levels, which are modulated by placental clearance, increase during uncomplicated labor and more so in the presence of fetal hypoxia–asphyxia+NE, providing a better biomarker than UCH-L1 for hypoxia–asphyxia+NE.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health