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Minerva Obstetrics and Gynecology 2021 August;73(4):392-408

DOI: 10.23736/S2724-606X.21.04771-7


language: English

Physiopathology of late-onset fetal growth restriction

Edward ARAUJO JÚNIOR 1, 2 , Ana C. ZAMARIAN 1, Ana C. CAETANO 1, Alberto B. PEIXOTO 3, 4, Luciano M. NARDOZZA 1

1 Paulista School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Federal University of São Paulo (EPM-UNIFESP), São Paulo, Brazil; 2 Municipal University of São Caetano do Sul (USCS), São Paulo, Brazil; 3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Federal University of Triângulo Mineiro (UFTM), Uberaba, Brazil; 4 Mario Palmério University Hospital, University of Uberaba (UNIUBE), Uberaba, Brazil

Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is defined as the inability of the fetus to reach its potential for genetic determination. FGR can have several causes, including genetic syndromes, chromosomal diseases, and infections; however, a vast majority of cases are probably attributed to impaired uterine and placental circulation. The relationships between abnormal placental development and FGR are complex, and studies are generally few, presenting confounding factors. Damage to the uteroplacental circulation associated with vasculogenesis and villus angiogenesis dysfunction are the main factors involved in subsequent FGR. The main receptors involved in FGR include hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF 1, 2, and 3), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), placental growth factor (PlGF), vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C), soluble Flt-1, soluble endoglin (Seng), angiopoietin-1 and -2 (Ang-1 and Ang-2), tyrosine kinase receptor 1 (Flt-1), tyrosine kinase receptor 2 (Flt-2), vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) 1, 2 and 3, kinase domain receptor (KDR), and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor A (VEGFR-A). Furthermore, failure in trophoblastic invasion and remodeling of spiral arteries has been associated with FGR owing to poor placental perfusion. There are several possible causes for poor remodeling of spiral arteries, which probably vary on a case-to-case basis. Changes in the placental form, macroscopic and microscopic vascular lesions, inflammation, and genetic changes are also related to FGR. Based on gestational age at diagnosis, FGR can be classified as early- (˂32 weeks) and late-onset (≥32 weeks). Moreover, there exist several theories regarding possible pathophysiological differences between early- and late-onset FGR, with some postulating that it the same disease but at different stages or severity. Another hypothesis suggests that the change in the trophoblastic invasion of spiral arteries would be milder. In this article, we address the main mechanisms described in the pathophysiology of FGR and, later, the specific findings in late-onset FGR.

KEY WORDS: Fetal growth retardation; Physiopathology; Late onset disorders; Term birth

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