Women with gestational diabetes can be found before 20 weeks of gestation
A new study has found three microRNAs (miR-16-5p, miR-29a-3p and miR-134-5p) that together can predict which women will develop gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) before 20 weeks of gestation.
‘There are currently no good biomarkers that can identify these women as early as that, so our finding means that we can intervene earlier and thereby minimize the harmful effects of raised blood sugar on both mother and foetus’, says the first author of the article, Anja Elaine Sørensen of the Department of Science and Environment at Roskilde University.
The new data also indicates that, if a pregnant woman has an elevated level of just one of these microRNAs early in the pregnancy, her risk of developing GDM is increased, even taking the woman’s BMI and age into account.
"Overweight pregnant women are at greater risk of pregnancy complications, including GDM, compared with lean women. Moreover, overweight women have bigger babies. In fact, the children of overweight mothers are themselves at greater risk of becoming overweight and developing lifestyle diseases later in life. Given that GDM has such a big impact, including on future generations, it is important to be able to identify these women early."
Part of the background to the research is that the number of people with type 2 diabetes is growing in Europe. This often has to do with an unhealthier lifestyle, higher-calorie diet and a lower level of activity. But those factors cannot explain all cases of type 2 diabetes. Studies suggest that women who have previously had gestational diabetes account for up to 31% of the total female population of type 2 diabetes cases.
Up to one in three pregnant women in Denmark are overweight
Up to a third of the pregnant women in Denmark are overweight. Overweight pregnant women are at greater risk of pregnancy complications, including GDM, compared with lean women. Moreover, overweight women have bigger babies. In fact, the children of overweight mothers are themselves at greater risk of becoming overweight and developing lifestyle diseases later in life.
Given that GDM has such a big impact, including on future generations, it is important to be able to identify these women early. Although GDM can be diagnosed at any stage of pregnancy, it is often diagnosed late in the second trimester or early in the third, between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. Recent research suggests that increased foetal weight is present as early as 20 weeks of gestation in overweight women who are later diagnosed with GDM. As well as reducing the risk of giving birth to an oversized baby, earlier identification of GDM - in overweight women - will help to improve both short- and long-term consequences of GDM.
MicroRNAs studied in 123 overweight European women
Specifically, in this study, the researchers examined small non-coding RNA molecules, known as microRNAs, in the blood of 123 overweight European pregnant women before 20 weeks of pregnancy. MicroRNAs have the ability to regulate the body’s genes. They are also involved in cell-to-cell communication and are therefore vital to the health of the body. Research has shown that the placenta expresses over 500 different microRNAs and that several microRNAs are dysregulated when it comes to GDM.
This study only investigated the microRNA expression in overweight, predominantly European women. The finding therefore also needs to be confirmed in lean pregnant women. ‘We already have plans for such a study in collaboration with Odense University Hospital, and the results from that will add to our overall knowledge of microRNAs and their role in GDM’, says Anja Elaine Sørensen.
Anja Elaine Sørensen PhD, Postdoc, assistant professor
Department of Science and Environment
Molecular and Medical Biology
READ THE ARTICLE HERE
Cells 2021, 10(1), 170;
The Predictive Value of miR-16, -29a and -134 for Early Identification of Gestational Diabetes: A Nested Analysis of the DALI Cohort
Published: 15 January 2021.
Anja Elaine Sørensen, Mireille N.M. van Poppel, Gernot Desoye, Peter Damm, David Simmons, Dorte Møller Jensen, Louise Torp Dalgaard and The DALI Core Investigator Group
This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Mechanisms in Metabolic Disease
READ THE ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN SUNDHEDSPOLITISK TIDSSKRIFT (Danish)