Background: Midkine (MDK) and pleiotrophin (PTN) are heparin-binding growth factors that, in rodents, are highly expressed in early life and decrease to undetectable levels by adulthood. The potential roles of MDK and PTN in human growth and development are not completely elucidated.
Method and findings: To delineate the role of MDK and PTN in human development, we developed high sensitivity assays to measure their concentrations in amniotic fluid (AF) at various gestational ages in both healthy and complicated pregnancies. We found that both of these growth factors could be readily measured in AF and that the concentrations were higher than most cytokines previously reported in AF.
Conclusion: The concentration of MDK but not that of PTN declined with gestational age. Both MDK and PTN concentrations were found to be lower in pregnancies that were complicated by chorioamnionitis at term, raising the possibility that these growth factors might be useful as markers for infection.