Universal oral glucose tolerance-based screening is employed to identify pregnant women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), as treatment of this condition decreases the risk of associated complications. A simple and accurate blood test which identifies women at low or high risk for GDM in the first trimester would have the potential to decrease costs and improve outcomes through prevention or treatment. This review summarizes published data on early pregnancy biomarkers which have been tested as predictors of GDM.
A large number of first-trimester biochemical predictors of GDM have been reported, mostly in small case-control studies. These include glycemic markers (fasting glucose, post-load glucose, hemoglobin A1C), inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-alpha), insulin resistance markers (fasting insulin, sex hormone-binding globulin), adipocyte-derived markers (adiponectin, leptin), placenta-derived markers (follistatin-like-3, placental growth factor, placental exosomes), and others (e.g., glycosylated fibronectin, soluble (pro)renin receptor, alanine aminotransferase, ferritin). A few large studies suggest that first-trimester fasting glucose or hemoglobin A1C may be useful for identifying women who would benefit from early GDM treatment.
To translate the findings from observational studies of first-trimester biomarkers for GDM to clinical practice, trials or cost-effectiveness analyses of screening and treatment strategies based on these novel biomarkers are needed.
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