Placental characteristics as a proxy measure of serum hormone and protein levels during pregnancy with a male fetus
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In utero exposure to steroid hormones may be related to risk of some cancers such as testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT). To determine whether placental characteristics are good surrogate measures of maternal biomarker levels, we evaluated the correlations in mothers of sons at higher (whites, n = 150) and lower (blacks, n = 150) risk of TGCT. Associations with birth weight were also examined.
All mothers, participants in the Collaborative Perinatal Project, were primigravidas who gave birth to male singletons. Associations between placental weight and placental thickness and third-trimester biomarker levels were evaluated using linear regression. Partial correlation coefficients for placental characteristics and birth weight were also estimated.
Placental weight was positively correlated with alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), testosterone, estradiol and estriol in whites, and AFP and estriol in blacks. Placental thickness was not associated with any biomarker. After adjustment for placental weight, birth weight was not correlated with any biomarker.
In these data, placental weight was modestly correlated with third-trimester biomarker level; however, it appeared to be a better surrogate for third-trimester biomarker level than birth weight. Placental thickness had limited utility as a surrogate measure for biomarker levels.