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Neuropeptide Biomarker May Predict Preterm Delivery

Urocortin achieves sensitivity of 80 percent and specificity of 100 percent in predicting preterm delivery

FRIDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal serum levels of urocortin, a neuropeptide produced by gestational tissues, may be a useful biomarker in predicting preterm delivery in women with threatened preterm labor, according to research published in the December issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Pasquale Florio, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Siena in Siena, Italy, and colleagues evaluated the utility of maternal urocortin levels as a diagnostic test for preterm delivery. The researchers measured serum urocortin levels in 85 women with singleton pregnancies presenting with threatened preterm labor between 28 to 34 weeks of gestation, correlating levels to risk of preterm delivery.

Of the 85 patients, 30 delivered preterm (35.3 percent). Maternal serum urocortin levels were higher in women who delivered preterm compared to those with term deliveries. A urocortin cutoff level of 113.9 pg/mL had a sensitivity of 80 percent, specificity of 100 percent, positive predictive value of 100 percent, and negative predictive value of 90 percent as a marker for preterm delivery.

"These findings confirm that maternal plasma urocortin levels are elevated in association with preterm labor and, together with in vitro evidence demonstrating that urocortin triggers myometrial contractility, lead us to suggest that the rise of urocortin in maternal circulation is associated with both term and preterm labor," the authors write.

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