Background: An imbalance in circulating angiogenic factors plays a central role in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia.
Methods and results: We prospectively studied 616 women who were evaluated for suspected preeclampsia. We measured plasma levels of antiangiogenic soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 (sFlt1) and proangiogenic placental growth factor (PlGF) at presentation and examined for an association between the sFlt1/PlGF ratio and subsequent adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes within 2 weeks. The median sFlt1/PlGF ratio at presentation was elevated in participants who experienced any adverse outcome compared with those who did not (47.0 [25th-75th percentile, 15.5-112.2] versus 10.8 [25th-75th percentile, 4.1-28.6]; P<0.0001). Among those presenting at <34 weeks (n=167), the results were more striking (226.6 [25th-75th percentile, 50.4-547.3] versus 4.5 [25th-75th percentile, 2.0-13.5]; P<0.0001), and the risk was markedly elevated when the highest sFlt1/PlGF ratio tertile was compared with the lowest (odds ratio, 47.8; 95% confidence interval, 14.6-156.6). Among participants presenting at <34 weeks, the addition of sFlt1/PlGF ratio to hypertension and proteinuria significantly improved the prediction for subsequent adverse outcomes (area under the curve, 0.93 for hypertension, proteinuria, and sFlt1/PlGF versus 0.84 for hypertension and proteinuria alone; P=0.001). Delivery occurred within 2 weeks of presentation in 86.0% of women with an sFlt1/PlGF ratio ≥85 compared with 15.8% of women with an sFlt1/PlGF ratio <85 (hazard ratio, 15.2; 95% confidence interval, 8.0-28.7).
Conclusions: In women with suspected preeclampsia presenting at <34 weeks, circulating sFlt1/PlGF ratio predicts adverse outcomes occurring within 2 weeks. The accuracy of this test is substantially better than that of current approaches and may be useful in risk stratification and management. Additional studies are warranted to validate these findings.