Gene Expression Changes During Late Pregnancy

Study is first to examine gene expression over time at the maternal-fetal interface

MONDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- More than 400 genes are differentially expressed at the maternal-fetal interface during pregnancy, with a large change in gene expression between mid-gestation and term, according to a report in the March issue of Endocrinology.

Virginia Winn, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues used whole-genome microarrays, quantitative polymerase chain reaction and immunolocalization to measure and validate gene expression changes in basal plate biopsy specimens from 36 placentas (gestational age, 14 to 24 weeks and 37 to 40 weeks).

While there was little change in gene expression from weeks 14 to 24, a total of 418 genes were differentially expressed at the maternal-fetal interface at weeks 37 to 40. These differentially expressed genes clustered into 11 possibly co-regulated groups, five of them up-regulated and six of them down-regulated. Some 126 genes were indexed as hypothetical, unknown, non-annotated or known only as an open reading frame. Genes that changed most over gestation represented a range of biological processes and metabolic pathways, including angiogenesis, gene transcription, lipid metabolism, folate biosynthesis, and Wnt-beta-catenin signaling.

"The results of this study provide reference data sets of gene expression profiles against which changes that occur in a variety of pregnancy complications can be measured," the authors write.

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