The measurement of placental growth factor (PIGF) is eligible for women between 20 and 34+6 weeks gestation with any suspicion of pre-eclampsia
The placental growth factor is a member of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family and is predominantly expressed in the placenta, although it is also expressed at low levels in many other tissues, including the heart, lung, thyroid, liver, skeletal muscle, and bone.
Circulating PlGF is prominently elevated in pregnancy with the source being the placenta. The function of PlGF in the placenta is likely to be in the promotion of the development and maturation of the placental vascular system. The main role of PlGF in tissues other than the placenta is angiogenesis in response to pathological ischemia or injury.
Concentrations of PlGF are low in the first trimester of an uncomplicated pregnancy and increase from week 11 to 12 onwards to a peak at week 30, after which it decreases.
A low PlGF concentration is considered to be a reflection of placental dysfunction and has been shown to correlate strongly with time to delivery in women with suspected preterm (<35 weeks' gestation) pre-eclampsia.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that usually happens after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It is a combination of raised blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in your urine (proteinuria). The exact cause of pre-eclampsia is not understood.
Pre-eclampsia is common, affecting 2-8 in 100 women during pregnancy. It is usually mild but if severe, pre-eclampsia can be life-threatening for both mother and baby. The symptoms include:
- Raised blood pressure
- Protein in urine
- Swollen hands, feet, or face
- Visual disturbances i.e. blurred vision or flashing lights
- Upper abdominal pain or rib pain
- Feeling unwell