Microorganisms in the human placenta are associated with altered CpG methylation of immune and inflammation-related genes

Martha Scott Tomlinson, Paige A Bommarito, Elizabeth M Martin, Lisa Smeester, Raina N Fichorova, Andrew B Onderdonk, Karl C K Kuban, T Michael O’Shea, Rebecca C Fry

PLoS One. 2017 Dec 14;12(12):e0188664.

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Microorganisms in placenta linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes & neonatal illness. Inflammation in placenta is a contributing factor, but underlying biological mechanisms not understood. Placental epigenome may serve as intermediate between placental microbes & inflammation, contributing to adverse outcomes. In present study, genome-wide DNA methylation (n = 486,428 CpG sites) of 84 placentas analyzed in relation to 16 species of placental microorganisms from ELGAN cohort. The n = 1,789 CpG sites, correspond to n = 1,079 genes, displayed differential methylation (q<0.1) in relation to microorganisms. Altered genes encode for proteins involved in immune/inflammatory responses, esp NF-κB signaling pathway. Data support bacteria-dependent epigenetic patterning in placenta – potential insight into mechanisms associating microorgs & outcomes.