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GDF15 Concentrations in Maternal Serum Associated with Vomiting in Pregnancy: the Cambridge Baby Growth Study

By Clive J. Petry, Ken K. Ong, Keith A Burling, Peter Barker, John R.B. Perry, Carlo L. Acerini, Ieuan A. Hughes, David B. Dunger, S O’Rahilly

Posted 17 Nov 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/221267

Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) affects 70-90% of all pregnant women but its pathogenesis is unknown. Growth and Differentiation Factor 15 (GDF15), secreted from the trophoblast and decidual stromal cells, is present at high levels in the blood of pregnant women. The receptor for GDF15 has recently been identified and is specifically expressed in the hindbrain where it transmits aversive signals including nausea and conditioned taste aversion. We explored the relationship between GDF15 concentrations in maternal serum during pregnancy and self-reported NVP. In a study of 791 women from the Cambridge Baby Growth Study maternal GDF15 concentrations were higher in women who reported vomiting in the 2nd trimester (geometric mean: 11,670 pg/mL; 95% confidence interval: 11,056-12,318) and were even higher in the eleven women who reported taking anti-emetics during pregnancy (13,376 (10,821-16,535) compared to those who reported no nausea or vomiting during pregnancy (10,657 (10,121-11,222); P=0.02 and P=0.04, respectively, adjusted for gestational age at sampling and maternal BMI). In conclusion serum GDF15 concentrations early in the second trimester of pregnancy are significantly and positively associated with second trimester vomiting and with maternal anti-emetic use. In the context of the recently revealed biology of GDF15 this data suggests that antagonism of GDF15 may have some potential for therapeutic benefit in NVP.

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