C-type natriuretic peptide: a potential biomarker for fetal hypoxaemia

Project Code: 10467925

Faculty: Liggins Institute

Department: Liggins Institute

Main Supervisor: Professor Frank Bloomfield

Principal investigator: Dr Mark Oliver

Application open date: 10 Sep 2020

Application deadline: 30 Jun 2021

Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International


Failure of the placenta to supply enough nutrition and oxygen to a baby during pregnancy can lead to fetal growth restriction (FGR) and small size at birth. FGR decreases a baby’s chances of survival and can have lifelong adverse consequences. Globally, at least 1/3 of all cases of FGR are missed before birth, putting these babies at risk of stillbirth.

We have preliminary data indicating that measuring a hormone called C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) in maternal blood may tell us about the levels of oxygen in the blood of their fetuses. It is low oxygen that is responsible for stillbirth, so if maternal blood CNP concentration is indeed a reliable marker of fetal oxygen content, this could lead to the development of a simple test of fetal wellbeing.

This study will test this hypothesis in sheep. If successful, this will lead on to appropriate clinical studies investigating the potential of CNP in human pregnancy.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

Applicants must meet the University of Auckland's entry criteria for PhD programmes.


The project will involve both an experimental study in sheep with direct measurement of fetal oxygen levels in both healthy and growth-restricted fetuses and an observational cohort in women referred for ultrasound assessment of fetal growth.

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