Research in Fetal and Congenital Heart Disease

The Division of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at University of Maryland has an outstanding record of excellence in clinical investigation and translational research.

The mission of the Clinical and Translational research in our department is to provide state-of-the-art clinical research facilities and expertise to faculty who conduct human studies. The goal of the unit is to create a "value-added" service to the Maternal and Children's clinical research community in the following ways:

  1. Offer expert consultation and implementation.
  2. Offer a basic science research that could be translated to the maternal and fetal medicine.
  3. Improve access and flexibility of clinical research services and facilities to meet study and patient needs.

Researchers in the division of Maternal Fetal Medicine are discovering ways to refine the diagnosis of congenital heart defects using different imaging modalities and discovering new biological biomarkers in maternal blood.

Clinical Fetal Heart Research:

The Center for Advanced Fetal Care’s Fetal Heart Program has been actively involved in fetal heart research for the last 8 years. Our team has been developing new imaging techniques in an effort to detect heart abnormalities at the beginning of pregnancy. Our research is centered on growth patterns and brain development in different congenital heart defects. Here is some of the ongoing research we’ve participated in:

Cardiac MRI

Cardiac MRI

Ongoing Research

  • Clinical implication of ventricular disproportion
  • Standardized mouse embryo cardiac evaluation using 17.6 T MRI
  • Growth patterns and brain development in different congenital heart defects
  • Potential role of maternal serum biochemical markers for fetal congenital heart defects
  • HLHS clinical trial

Published Articles:

  1. Three- and Four-Dimensional FetalEchocardiography
    Sifa Turan, Ozhan Turan, and Ahmet A. Baschat
  2. Standardization of the first-trimester fetal cardiacexamination using spatiotemporal image correlation withtomographic ultrasound and color Doppler imaging
    S. Turan, O. M. Turan, K. TY-Torredes, C. R. Harman and A. A. Baschat
  3. Decreased fetal cardiac performance in the first trimestercorrelates with hyperglycemia in pregestational maternaldiabetes
    S. Turan, O. M. Turan, J. Miller, C. Harman, E. A. Reece and A. A. Baschat
  4. Cardiovascular Transition to Extrauterine Life inGrowth-Restricted Neonates: Relationship withPrenatal Doppler Findings
    Sifa Turan, Ozhan M. Turan, Mubadda Salim, Christoph Berg, Ulrich Gembruch, Christopher R. Harman, and Ahmet A. Baschat
  5. A prospective study of first trimester fetal cardiac examination using spatiotemporal image correlation, tomographic ultrasound and color Doppler imaging for the diagnosis of complex congenital heart disease in high-risk patients
    Sifa Turan MD RDMS, Ozhan M. Turan MD, PhD , Andrea Desai MD, Christopher R.
    Harman MD, and Ahmet A. Baschat MD

Translational Cardiac Research:

Thompson Laboratory of intrauterine stress on field of cardiac programming

Loren Thompson, Ph.D.

Our research investigates the impact of chronic hypoxia on maternal adaptations during pregnancy, placental development and growth and development of the fetus. Recently, our work has focused on the impact of intrauterine hypoxia on the fetal cardiovascular system and the prolonged consequences of cardiovascular programming in the offspring. We have discovered, using a chronically hypoxic guinea pig model, that hypoxic fetal hearts exhibit inflammation, remodeling and nitrosative and oxidative stress, which can be reversed by maternal administration of antioxidants and a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor.

Experimental Lab

Further, we have reported that mitochondrial function in hypoxic fetal hearts is impaired, which is sustained in the offspring. Thus, we hypothesize that prenatal hypoxia negatively impacts fetal hearts by generating cytotoxic molecules such as excessive nitric oxide, oxygen free radicals, and peroxynitrite, rendering them vulnerable to metabolic dysfunction in utero and after birth. In addition, we are studying the effects of gestational hypoxia (during placenta formation) in pregnant guinea pigs on the generation of maternal hypertension, placental pathology and fetal growth restriction, symptoms similar to human preeclampsia.

Our laboratory takes a physiological approach using a well established animal model and investigates the underlying cellular mechanisms using molecular, immunohistochemical, and biochemical techniques. This experimental approach provides a translational strategy for contributing to further understanding of clinical problems in perinatal medicine.

Contact Loren Thompson, Ph.D. for more information.

Published Articles:

  1. Prenatal Hypoxia Reduces Mitochondrial Protein Levels and Cytochrome c Oxidase Activity in Offspring Guinea Pig Hearts
    Yazan M. Al-Hasan, Gerard A. Pinkas and Loren P. Thompson
    Reproductive Sciences published online January 9, 2014
  2. Chronic Hypoxia Impairs CytochromeOxidase Activity Via Oxidative Stressin Selected Fetal Guinea Pig Organs
    Yazan M. Al-Hasan, LaShauna C. Evans, Gerard A. Pinkas, Erinne R. Dabkowski, William C. Stanley, and Loren P. Thompson
  3. Impact of Oxidative Stress in Fetal Programming
    Loren P. Thompson and Yazan Al-Hasan
  4. Chronic hypoxia increases peroxynitrite, MMP9 expression,and collagen accumulation in fetal guinea pig hearts
    LaShauna C. Evans, Hongshan Liu, Gerard A. Pinkas and Loren P. Thompson

For additional information, or to make an appointment, please contact the center for Advanced Fetal Care at 410-328-3865.

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