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Obstetrics - Pathology - Physiology

Mid-Gestational Gene Expression Profile in Placenta and Link to Pregnancy Complications
Published: Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Author: Liis Uusküla et al.

by Liis Uusküla, Jaana Männik, Kristiina Rull, Ave Minajeva, Sulev Kõks, Pille Vaas, Pille Teesalu, Jüri Reimand, Maris Laan

Despite the importance of placenta in mediating rapid physiological changes in pregnancy, data on temporal dynamics of placental gene expression are limited. We completed the first transcriptome profiling of human placental gene expression dynamics (GeneChips, Affymetrix®; ~47,000 transcripts) from early to mid-gestation (n?=?10; gestational weeks 5–18) and report 154 genes with significant transcriptional changes (ANOVA, FDR P<0.1). TaqMan RT-qPCR analysis (n?=?43; gestational weeks 5–41) confirmed a significant (ANOVA and t-test, FDR P<0.05) mid-gestational peak of placental gene expression for BMP5, CCNG2, CDH11, FST, GATM, GPR183, ITGBL1, PLAGL1, SLC16A10 and STC1, followed by sharp decrease in mRNA levels at term (t-test, FDR P<0.05). We hypothesized that normal course of late pregnancy may be affected when genes characteristic to mid-gestation placenta remain highly expressed until term, and analyzed their expression in term placentas from normal and complicated pregnancies [preeclampsia (PE), n?=?12; gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), n?=?12; small- and large-for-gestational-age newborns (SGA, LGA), n?=?12+12]. STC1 (stanniocalcin 1) exhibited increased mRNA levels in all studied complications, with the most significant effect in PE- and SGA-groups (t-test, FDR P<0.05). In post-partum maternal plasma, the highest STC1 hormone levels (ELISA, n?=?129) were found in women who had developed PE and delivered a SGA newborn (median 731 vs 418 pg/ml in controls; ANCOVA, P?=?0.00048). Significantly higher expression (t-test, FDR P<0.05) of CCNG2 and LYPD6 accompanied with enhanced immunostaining of the protein was detected in placental sections of PE and GDM cases (n?=?15). Our study demonstrates the importance of temporal dynamics of placental transcriptional regulation across three trimesters of gestation. Interestingly, many genes with high expression in mid-gestation placenta have also been implicated in adult complex disease, promoting the discussion on the role of placenta in developmental programming. The discovery of elevated maternal plasma STC1 in pregnancy complications warrants further investigations of its potential as a biomarker.