Fetal Cerebral Oxygenation Is Impaired in Congenital Heart Disease and Shows Variable Response to Maternal Hyperoxia
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1161/jaha.120.018777
Background Impairments in fetal oxygen delivery have been implicated in brain dysmaturation seen in congenital heart disease (CHD), suggesting a role for in utero transplacental oxygen therapy. We applied a novel imaging tool to quantify fetal cerebral oxygenation by measuring T2* decay. We compared T2* in fetuses with CHD with controls with a focus on cardiovascular physiologies (transposition or left-sided obstruction) and described the effect of brief administration of maternal hyperoxia on T2* decay. Methods and Results This is a prospective study performed on pregnant mothers with a prenatal diagnosis of CHD compared with controls in the third trimester. Participants underwent a fetal brain magnetic resonance imaging scan including a T2* sequence before and after maternal hyperoxia. Comparisons were made between control and CHD fetuses including subgroup analyses by cardiac physiology. Forty-four mothers (CHD=24, control=20) participated. Fetuses with CHD had lower total brain volume (238.2 mm3, 95% CI, 224.6-251.9) compared with controls (262.4 mm3, 95% CI, 245.0-279.8, P=0.04). T2* decay time was faster in CHD compared with controls (beta=-14.4, 95% CI, -23.3 to -5.6, P=0.002). The magnitude of change in T2* with maternal hyperoxia was higher in fetuses with transposition compared with controls (increase of 8.4 ms, 95% CI, 0.5-14.3, P=0.01), though between-subject variability was noted. Conclusions Cerebral tissue oxygenation is lower in fetuses with complex CHD. There was variability in the response to maternal hyperoxia by CHD subgroup that can be tested in future larger studies. Cardiovascular physiology is critical when designing neuroprotective clinical trials in the fetus with CHD.