Author(s): Elfayomy AK, Almasry SM
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Abstract AIM: To investigate the impact of antenatal exposure to a single course or repeated courses of dexamethasone (DEX) on neonatal anthropometrics, placental morphometry and potential effect on maternal plasma levels and placental expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). METHODS: Pregnant women between 27 and 32 weeks of gestation who delivered between 28 and 40 weeks and received a single course (n = 38) or repeated courses (n = 33) of DEX were compared to gestational age-matched controls (n = 30). Maternal blood samples were obtained, and placental biopsy was taken. Area percent of VEGF immunostaining and villous capillarization index were evaluated using image analysis. RESULTS: Infants exposed to repeated courses of DEX were significantly associated with decreased birthweight, body length, head circumference and placental weight compared with controls (P = 0.011, P < 0.001, P = 0.004, P < 0.001, respectively) and with the group that received a single course of DEX (P = 0.021, P = 0.020, P = 0.049, P = 0.010, respectively). There was a significant decrease in maternal VEGF plasma levels and percentage of VEGF immunostained area after repeated courses of DEX compared with controls (P < 0.001 and P = 0.001, respectively) or a single course (P = 0.028 and P = 0.002, respectively). Notably, repeated courses of DEX impaired normal increase in villous capillarization index compared with controls or a single course (P = 0.001 and P = 0.041, respectively). CONCLUSION: Repeated antenatal courses of DEX compromised fetal and placental growth compared with a single course of DEX, and these effects were potentially mediated by altered maternal plasma levels and placental expression of VEGF with consequent decrease in placental vascularization. Because of continuing uncertainties, several key messages for clinicians are provided. © 2014 The Authors. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research © 2014 Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
This article was published in J Obstet Gynaecol Res
and referenced in Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education