The placenta epigenome-brain axis: placental epigenomic and transcriptomic responses that preprogram cognitive impairment

Freedman AN, Eaves LA, Rager JE, Gavino-Lopez N, Smeester L, Bangma J, Santos HP, Joseph RM, Kuban KC, O’Shea TM, Fry RC.

Epigenomics. 2022 Aug;14(15):897-911. doi: 10.2217/epi-2022-0061. Epub 2022 Sep 8. PMID: 36073148; PMCID: PMC9475498.

PubMed Link Aim: The placenta-brain axis reflects a developmental linkage where disrupted placental function is associated with impaired neurodevelopment later in life. Placental gene expression and the expression of epigenetic modifiers such as miRNAs may be tied to these impairments and are understudied. Materials & methods: The expression levels of mRNAs (n = 37,268) and their targeting miRNAs (n = 2083) were assessed within placentas collected from the ELGAN study cohort (n = 386). The ELGAN adolescents were assessed for neurocognitive function at age 10 and the association with placental mRNA/miRNAs was determined. Results: Placental mRNAs related to inflammatory and apoptotic processes are under miRNA control and associated with cognitive impairment at age 10. Conclusion: Findings highlight key placenta epigenome-brain relationships that support the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis.