Placental histology for targeted risk assessment of recurrent spontaneous preterm birth

Sunitha Suresh*, Alexa Freedman, Marci Adams, Emmet Hirsch, Linda M. Ernst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Spontaneous preterm birth significantly increases the risk for a recurrent preterm birth. Only a few identifiable clinical risk factors can be referenced in counseling for recurrent preterm birth. Furthermore, treatment using progesterone supplementation has not consistently prevented preterm birth among high-risk patients, but it may be effective in a subset of those patients. Placental pathology from a previous pregnancy may be used to predict which patients will experience a recurrent preterm birth or to identify a subset of patients more likely to respond to treatment with antenatal progesterone. Objective: This study aimed to determine if histologic patterns are associated with recurrent preterm birth among patients with an index spontaneous preterm birth. A secondary objective was to determine if placental histologic types and/or progesterone receptor density in the decidua are associated with the response to progesterone supplementation with intramuscular 17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate. Study Design: This was a retrospective cohort study at a single institution of women with singleton pregnancies with an index spontaneous preterm birth and a subsequent birth within the same hospital system between 2009 and 2019. Patients were included if placental pathology was available for the index spontaneous preterm birth. A logistic regression was used to determine if there were independent associations between 4 histologic types (acute inflammation, maternal vascular malperfusion, fetal vascular malperfusion, chronic inflammation) and recurrent preterm birth. For the secondary endpoint, 17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate response was defined as prolonging gestation by >3 weeks beyond the gestational age at delivery in the index pregnancy. Patients who delivered <3 weeks beyond the gestational age in the index pregnancy but at ≥39 weeks’ gestation were excluded. A logistic regression was used to assess the independent association between placental histology and 17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate response. Sensitivity analyses were completed using only patients with an index birth <36 weeks’ gestation, and then excluding those with medically indicated preterm birth in a subsequent pregnancy. A nested case-control immunohistochemical study was done among 20 patients with a subsequent term birth and 20 patients with a subsequent spontaneous preterm birth. The percentage of cells in the maternal decidua positive for progesterone receptors was correlated with the subsequent pregnancy outcome. Results: A total of 352 patients were included. Acute inflammation was the most common histologic type seen among patients with spontaneous preterm birth (44.1%), followed by chronic inflammation (40.9%) and maternal vascular malperfusion (31.3%). No histologic type was independently associated with recurrent preterm birth. A total of 155 patients received 17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate in a second pregnancy. Low-grade acute inflammation was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of 17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate response. Low-grade maternal vascular malperfusion among those with an index pregnancy delivered at <36 weeks’ gestation was significantly associated with a more than 4 times increased likelihood of 17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate response when excluding those with a subsequent iatrogenic preterm birth. Progesterone receptor staining was not associated with recurrent preterm birth. Conclusion: Although acute inflammation was prevalent among spontaneous preterm births, more than half of the spontaneous preterm births were not associated with acute inflammation. Low-grade acute inflammation was associated with a significantly decreased response to 17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate supplementation. Low-grade maternal vascular malperfusion was associated with a 4-fold increased likelihood of 17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate response among those with index deliveries <36 weeks’ gestation. Further work is needed to determine if placental pathologic examination can be used to target treatment in subsequent pregnancies to prevent recurrent preterm birth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452.e1-452.e11
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Volume230
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Keywords

  • obstetrical outcomes
  • placental pathology
  • spontaneous preterm birth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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