Circulating trophoblast numbers as a potential marker for pregnancy complications

Prenat Diagn. 2022 Aug;42(9):1182-1189. doi: 10.1002/pd.6202. Epub 2022 Jul 2.


Objective: To explore the potential of circulating trophoblasts (TBs) as a non-invasive tool to assess placental health and predict obstetric complications.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed maternal characteristics and pregnancy outcomes of 369 women who enrolled in our original cell-based NIPT (cbNIPT) study. The number of circulating TBs recovered from the maternal blood samples was recorded and expressed as fetal cell concentration (FCC). We evaluated if FCC can be used to predict pregnancy outcomes such as hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP), fetal growth restriction, placental abruption, preterm labor, and pregnancy loss.

Results: Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was performed to find the best cut off value to classify FCC into a low and high FCC group, and this cut-off point was calculated as 11.1 cells per 100 ml of blood. The adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for the composite morbidity was significantly increased for the high FCC group at an aOR of 1.6.

Conclusion: Circulating TB have the potential of predicting obstetrical complications such as HDP. Future studies, with larger sample sizes, should focus on the study of these cells as a biomarker for placental health and a possible screening or diagnostic tool for fetal genetic conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Placenta
  • Pre-Eclampsia*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Trophoblasts


  • Biomarkers