Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that epigenetic marks on human placentas change from the first trimester of pregnancy to the third, a discovery that may allow clinicians to prevent complications in pregnancy.
The finding marks a dramatic departure from the prevailing opinion that epigenetic programming is permanently established 12 weeks after fertilization. Published in the April issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the study indicates that clinicians may be able to change the course of a pregnancy through early diagnosis and treatment.
"Our research shows that there are several 'windows of opportunity' during pregnancy to detect risks and also change pregnancy outcomes that may arise later," said the study's senior investigator, Men-Jean Lee, MD, Associate Professor, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, and Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "We have developed an assay that can allow clinicians to diagnose problems early enough to potentially prevent conditions such as preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction."
Epigenetics generally refers to factors that modify how a gene behaves while not altering the DNA nucleotide sequence of the gene itself. The placenta contains a group of genes, known as "imprinted" genes, which regulate fetal growth. In healthy fetal development, one copy of these genes is normally active and the other copy is silent. Loss of imprinting (LOI) occurs when both sets of genes are reactivated, and is an indicator of potential complications such as preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction.
Using an LOI assay developed by James G. Wetmur, PhD, and Jia Chen, ScD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the research team assessed LOI at the first trimester in 17 placentas and at full term in 14 different placentas. The surprising results showed that more LOI occurred in the first trimester than at full term.
Dr. Lee and her team concluded that genomic imprinting appears to be an ever-changing process in the placenta, meaning that pregnancy risks can change throughout the course of gestation. Previously, the medical community believed imprints remained static after 12 weeks. This same Mount Sinai research team had also previously discovered that the epigenetic marks in placentas from pregnancies with preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction were different from normal pregnancies at full term.
"Ours is the first study to examine LOI in the first trimester and compare it to that of full-term placentas," Dr. Lee said. "Now that we know the epigenetic make-up in the placenta changes during the course of a pregnancy, we can develop biomarkers to see if those pregnancies destined to develop preeclampsia or fetal growth restriction can be detected early enough in pregnancy to allow prevention of these diseases."
An estimated 10 percent of pregnancies are complicated by fetal growth restriction, which increases the risk of stillbirth, cerebral palsy, feeding intolerance, and failure to thrive. Preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure and swelling during pregnancy, affects between 7 and 10 percent of pregnant women.
"More research is necessary to determine the impact of this discovery on potentially reducing the risk of other serious conditions like autism, cancer, and childhood obesity," said Dr. Lee.
About The Mount Sinai Medical Center
The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Mount Sinai Hospital is one of the nation's oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. Founded in 1852, Mount Sinai today is a 1,171-bed tertiary-care teaching facility that is internationally acclaimed for excellence in clinical care. Last year, nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients, and there were approximately 530,000 outpatient visits to the Medical Center.
Mount Sinai School of Medicine is internationally recognized as a leader in groundbreaking clinical and basic science research, as well as having an innovative approach to medical education. With a faculty of more than 3,400 in 38 clinical and basic science departments and centers, Mount Sinai ranks among the top 20 medical schools in receipt of National Institute of Health (NIH) grants. For more information, please visit www.mountsinai.org.
Mount Sinai Press Office | EurekAlert!
Study relating to materials testing Detecting damages in non-magnetic steel through magnetism
23.07.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur
What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
25.07.2018 | Event News
16.08.2018 | Life Sciences
16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences
16.08.2018 | Life Sciences