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Maternal depressive symptoms throughout pregnancy are associated with increased placental glucocorticoid sensitivity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 January 2015

R. M. Reynolds*
Affiliation:
Endocrinology Unit, University/BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Queen's Medical Research Institute, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh, UK
A.-K. Pesonen
Affiliation:
Institute of Behavioral Sciences, University of Helsinki, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
J. R. O'Reilly
Affiliation:
Endocrinology Unit, University/BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Queen's Medical Research Institute, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh, UK
S. Tuovinen
Affiliation:
Institute of Behavioral Sciences, University of Helsinki, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
M. Lahti
Affiliation:
Institute of Behavioral Sciences, University of Helsinki, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
E. Kajantie
Affiliation:
National Institute for Health and Welfare, 00271 Helsinki, Finland Children's Hospital, Helsinki University Central Hospital and University of Helsinki, 00029 Helsinki, Finland Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, 90029 Oulu, Finland
P. M. Villa
Affiliation:
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
H. Laivuori
Affiliation:
Haartman Institute, Medical Genetics, University of Helsinki, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
E. Hämäläinen
Affiliation:
HUSLAB and Department of Clinical Chemistry, Helsinki University Central Hospital, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
J. R. Seckl
Affiliation:
Endocrinology Unit, University/BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Queen's Medical Research Institute, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh, UK
K. Räikkönen
Affiliation:
Institute of Behavioral Sciences, University of Helsinki, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
*
*Address for correspondence: R. Reynolds, Endocrinology Unit, BHF/University Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Queen's Medical Research Institute, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, UK. (Email: R.Reynolds@ed.ac.uk)

Abstract

Background

Maternal prenatal depression predicts post-partum depression and increases risk of prematurity and low birth weight. These effects may be mediated by altered placental function. We hypothesized that placental function would be influenced by the gestational week of experiencing depressive symptoms and aimed to examine associations between maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy and placental expression of genes involved in glucocorticoid and serotonin transfer between mother and fetus.

Method

We studied women participating in a prospective pregnancy cohort: the Prediction and Prevention of Preeclampsia (PREDO) Study, Helsinki, Finland. Maternal depressive symptoms were assessed at 2-week intervals throughout pregnancy in 56 healthy women with singleton, term pregnancies. Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) levels of glucocorticoid (GR) and mineralocorticoid (MR) receptors and serotonin transporter (SLC6A4), 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (HSD1) and 2 (HSD2) were quantified in placental biopsies.

Results

In adjusted analyses women who reported higher depressive symptoms across the whole pregnancy had higher mRNA levels of GR [effect size 0.31 s.d. units, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.01–0.60, p = 0.042] and MR (effect size 0.34 s.d. units, 95% CI 0.01–0.68, p = 0.047). These effects were significant for symptoms experienced in the third trimester of pregnancy for GR; findings for MR were also significant for symptoms experienced in the second trimester. GR and MR mRNA levels increased linearly by having the trimester-specific depressive symptoms scores 0, 1 or 2–3 times above the clinical cut-off for depression (p = 0.003, p = 0.049, respectively, and p = 0.004, p = 0.15 in adjusted analyses).

Conclusions

Our findings offer potential gestational-age-specific mechanisms linking maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy via placental biology. Future studies will test whether these also link with adverse offspring outcomes.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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