OBJECTIVES: T2*-weighted sequences have been identified as non-invasive tools to study the placental oxygenation in-vivo. This study aims to investigate both static and dynamic responses to hyperoxia of the normal placenta across gestation.

METHODS: We conducted a single-center prospective study including 52 uncomplicated pregnancies. Two T2*-weighted sequences were performed: T2*-relaxometry was performed before and after maternal hyperoxia. The histogram distribution of T2* values was assessed by fitting a gamma distribution as T2*~Γ(αβ). A dynamic acquisition (BOLD protocol) was also performed before and during oxygen supply, until placental oxygen saturation. The signal change over time was modeled using a sigmoid function, used to determine the intensity of enhancement (∆BOLD,%), a temporal variation coefficient (λ,min -1 , controlling the slope of the curve), and the maximal steepness (Vmax, ∆BOLD.min -1 ) of placental enhancement.

RESULTS: The histogram analysis of the T2* values in normoxia showed a whole-placenta variation, with a decreasing linear trend in the mean T2* value (R= -0.83, 95% CI [-0.9, -0.71], p<0.001) along with a more peaked and narrower distribution of T2* values across gestation. After maternal hyperoxia, the mean T2* ratios (mean T2* hyperoxia / mean T2* baseline ) were positively correlated with gestational age, while the other histogram parameters remained stable, suggesting a translation of the histogram towards higher values with a similar aspect. The ∆BOLD showed a non-linear increase across gestation. Conversely, the λ(min -1 ) parameter, showed an inverted trend across gestation, with a significantly weaker correlation (R = -0.33, 95% CI [-0.58, -0.02], p=0.04, R 2 = 0.1). As a combination of ∆BOLD and λ, the changes in Vmax throughout gestation were mainly influenced by the changes in ∆BOLD and resulted in a positive non-linear correlation with gestational age.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the decrease in the T2* placental signal over gestation does not reflect a dysfunction. The BOLD effect, representative of a free-diffusion model of oxygenation, highlights the growing differences in oxygen saturation between mother and fetus across gestation (∆BOLD), and placental permeability to oxygen (λ). This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalUltrasound in obstetrics & gynecology : the official journal of the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Early online date13 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Feb 2024

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