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Velocity-selective arterial spin labeling perfusion measurements in 2nd trimester human placenta with varying BMI.

Placenta 2024 April 4
INTRODUCTION: Proper placental development is crucial to fetal health but is challenging to functionally assess non-invasively and is thus poorly characterized in populations. Body mass index (BMI) has been linked with adverse outcomes, but the causative mechanism is uncertain. Velocity-selective arterial spin labeling (VS-ASL) MRI provides a method to non-invasively measure placental perfusion with robustness to confounding transit time delays. In this study, we report on the measurement of perfusion in the human placenta in early pregnancy using velocity-selective arterial spin labeling (VS-ASL) MRI, comparing non-obese and obese participants.

METHODS: Participants (N = 97) undergoing routine prenatal care were recruited and imaged with structural and VS-ASL perfusion MRI at 15 and 21 weeks gestation. Resulting perfusion images were analyzed with respect to obesity based on BMI, gestational age, and the presence of adverse outcomes.

RESULTS: At 15 weeks gestation BMI was not associated with placental perfusion or perfusion heterogeneity. However, at 21 weeks gestation BMI was associated with higher placental perfusion (p < 0.01) and a decrease in perfusion heterogeneity (p < 0.05). In alignment with past studies, perfusion values were also higher at 21 weeks compared to 15 weeks gestation. In a small cohort of participants with adverse outcomes, at 21 weeks lower perfusion was observed compared to participants with uncomplicated pregnancies.

DISCUSSION: These results suggest low placental perfusion in the early second trimester may not be the culpable factor driving associations of obesity with adverse outcomes.

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