The role of folate receptor autoantibodies in preterm birth

Hanh D. Vo, Jeffrey M. Sequeira, Edward V. Quadros, Steven M. Schwarz, Agnes R. Perenyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective: Cellular uptake of folate is mediated by folate receptor (FR)α. Prior studies indicate that a FRα autoantibody (FRAb) is implicated in poor pregnancy outcomes. The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of FRAbs in women with preterm and term pregnancies, and to investigate the role of maternal FRAbs in preterm birth. Methods: This prospective observational study included 23 mothers and 25 preterm infants (two twin births) born at gestational age (GA) ≤32 wk and/or birth weight ≤1500 g (group 1) and 25 mother-term infant pairs (infants born at GA ≥37 wk, group 2). Blocking and binding FRAbs in maternal and in cord blood were determined. The association between maternal FRAbs and pregnancy outcome was measured using multiple logistic regression, adjusted for maternal age and previous preterm birth. Results: The prevalence of FRAbs was 65.2% in women with preterm birth, which was twofold higher than in those with term pregnancy (28%; relative risk [RR], 2.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2-4.7). The prevalence of FRAbs in preterm infants (64%) was significantly higher than in term infants (24%; RR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.3-5.7). Pregnant women with positive FRAbs had 4.9 times higher odds of having preterm birth (odds ratio, 4.9; 95% CI, 1.4-17.7), adjusted for maternal age and previous preterm birth. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the presence of FRAbs might be a contributing factor to preterm birth, which could be prevented with appropriate testing and therapeutic interventions. Further studies are warranted to investigate the possible mechanisms of fetal sensitization resulting in FRAb production in utero and its possible clinical correlates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1224-1227
Number of pages4
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Folate
  • Folate receptor autoantibody
  • Poor pregnancy outcome
  • Premature birth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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