Maternal circulating miRNAs that predict infant FASD outcomes influence placental maturation

Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE), like other pregnancy complications, can result in placental insufficiency and fetal growth restriction, although the linking causal mechanisms are unclear. We previously identified 11 gestationally elevated maternal circulating miRNAs ( HEa miRNAs) that predicted infant growth deficits following PAE. Here, we investigated whether these HEa miRNAs contribute to the pathology of PAE, by inhibiting trophoblast epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT), a pathway critical for placental development. We now report for the first time that PAE inhibits expression of placental pro-EMT pathway members in both rodents and primates, and that HEa miRNAs collectively, but not individually, mediate placental EMT inhibition. HEa miRNAs collectively, but not individually, also inhibited cell proliferation and the EMT pathway in cultured trophoblasts, while inducing cell stress, and following trophoblast syncytialization, aberrant endocrine maturation. Moreover, a single intravascular administration of the pooled murine-expressed HEa miRNAs, to pregnant mice, decreased placental and fetal growth and inhibited the expression of pro-EMT transcripts in the placenta. Our data suggest that HEa miRNAs collectively interfere with placental development, contributing to the pathology of PAE, and perhaps also, to other causes of fetal growth restriction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere201800252
JournalLife science alliance
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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