Evidence for the placenta-brain axis: multi-omic kernel aggregation predicts intellectual and social impairment in children born extremely preterm

Hudson P Santos Jr, Arjun Bhattacharya, Robert M Joseph, Lisa Smeester, Karl C K Kuban, Carmen J Marsit, T Michael O’Shea, Rebecca C Fry

Mol Autism. 2020 Dec 11;11(1):97.

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We examined associations between placental transcriptomic & epigenomic profiles and assessed their ability to predict intellectual and social impairment at age 10 years in 379 children from the ELGAN cohort. Genes with important roles in neuro-development and placental tissue organization were associated with intellectual and social impairment. Kernel aggregations of placental multi-omics strongly predicted IQ and social function, explaining ~ 8% and 12% of variance in SRS and IQ scores via cross-validation, respectively. Predicted in-sample SRS and IQ showed sign positive and negative associations with ASD case-control status. Aggregating information from biomarkers within and among molecular data types improves prediction of complex traits like social and intellectual ability in children born EP, suggesting that traits within the placenta-brain axis may be omnigenic.