Circulating fibroblast growth factor 21 as a potential biomarker for missed abortion in humans

Article In Press

Like Comment
Related Content


Yongkang Yang, M.D., Jiaming Wu, M.S., Xia Wang, M.M., Jianyu Yao, M.S., Kim Shijian Lao, Ph.D., Yumei Qiao, B.N., Ying Xu, M.D., Yue Hu, M.M., Yanhong Feng, M.M., Yanchao Cui, B.M., Shuai Shi, M.M., Jing Zhang, M.M., Man Liang, M.M., Yong Pan, Ph.D., Kang Xie, M.S., Kaixuan Yan, M.S., Qin Li, M.M., Dewei Ye, Ph.D., Yao Wang, Ph.D. 



To investigate whether serum levels of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) and fatty acid-binding protein-4 (FABP4) are associated with missed abortion (MA) in humans.


Cross-sectional study.


University-affiliated hospital.


Patients with MA at 8–12 weeks of gestation.



Main Outcome Measures(s)

Serum levels of FGF21 and FABP4 were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Placental samples were collected during dilation and curettage surgery, and the expression of FGF21 and its related genes were measured using quantitative polymerase chain reaction.


In the discovery cohort, 78 patients with MA and 79 healthy pregnant women matched for maternal age and body mass index were nested from a prospective cohort. Circulating levels of FGF21 and FABP4 were significantly and independently elevated in patients with MA relative to the levels in the healthy controls. A single measurement of FGF21 serum level effectively discriminated MA with an area under the receiver operating characteristics curve of 0.80 (95% confidence interval: 0.73–0.87). Importantly, in our external validation cohort that comprised subjects with MA (n = 34) or induced abortion (n = 27), the FGF21 serum levels achieved an area under the receiver operating characteristics curve of 0.85 (95% confidence interval: 0.75–0.96) when identifying those with MA. Nevertheless, expression of FGF21 in the placenta was not associated with its serum concentration. Placental tissues from patients with MA exhibited impaired FGF21 signaling.


Our results suggested that serum levels of FGF21 and FABP4 were associated with MA. Circulating FGF21 may serve as a potential biomarker for the recognition of MA.

Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.