Human placental microRNAs dysregulated by cadmium exposure predict neurobehavioral outcomes at birth

Jesse M. Tehrani, Elizabeth Kennedy, Pei Wen Tung, Amber Burt, Karen Hermetz, Tracy Punshon, Brian P. Jackson, Ke Hao, Jia Chen, Margaret R. Karagas, Devin C. Koestler, Barry Lester, Carmen J. Marsit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Prenatal cadmium (Cd) exposure has been implicated in both placental toxicity and adverse neurobehavioral outcomes. Placental microRNAs (miRNAs) may function to developmentally program adverse pregnancy and newborn health outcomes in response to gestational Cd exposure. Methods: In a subset of the Rhode Island Child Health Study (RICHS, n = 115) and the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study (NHBCS, = 281), we used small RNA sequencing and trace metal analysis to identify Cd-associated expression of placental miRNAs using negative binomial generalized linear models. We predicted mRNAs targeted by Cd-associated miRNAs and relate them to neurobehavioral outcomes at birth through the integration of transcriptomic data and summary scores from the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS). Results: Placental Cd concentrations are significantly associated with the expression level of five placental miRNAs in NHBCS, with similar effect sizes in RICHS. These miRNA target genes overrepresented in nervous system development, and their expression is correlated with NNNS metrics suggestive of atypical neurobehavioral outcomes at birth. Conclusions: Gestational Cd exposure is associated with the expression of placental miRNAs. Predicted targets of these miRNAs are involved in nervous system development and may also regulate placental physiology, allowing their dysregulation to modify developmental programming of early life health outcomes. Impact: This research aims to address the poor understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing adverse pregnancy and newborn health outcomes in response to Gestational cadmium (Cd) exposure.Our results outline a robust relationship between Cd-associated placental microRNA expression and NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scales (NNNS) at birth indicative of atypical neurobehavior.This study utilized healthy mother-infant cohorts to describe the role of Cd-associated dysregulation of placental microRNAs as a potential mechanism by which adverse neurobehavioral outcomes are developmentally programmed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1410-1418
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Research
Volume93
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2023

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