Fetal, Maternal Genetic Components May Contribute to Different Preeclampsia Phenotypes

By David Douglas

May 21, 2014

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Different manifestations of preeclampsia may have distinct maternal and fetal genetic underpinnings, according to a review of "mined" data from more than 700 studies.

Earlier work has documented the familial nature of the condition, but the exact genetic components are unclear, researchers note in Obstetrics and Gynecology, online May 6.

"From a clinical and research perspective, our data support the idea that there are likely very different phenotypes of preeclampsia," said co-lead author Dr. Elizabeth W. Triche of Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, Rhode Island.

"This suggests that studies focused on very specific phenotypes may be necessary to identify the genetic architecture of the disease, and may lead to different treatments or prevention methods for different phenotypes," she told Reuters Health by email, adding that the results also highlight the role of fetal genetics in preeclampsia.

The team used semantic data-mining and natural language processing to identify relevant articles. Eventually 729 said to contain statistically significant associations with 535 genes were selected.

There were 194 maternal genes distinctly associated with preeclampsia, 39 distinctly associated with severe preeclampsia, and 94 associated with both, the researchers found.

In addition, 204 fetal genes were associated with preeclampsia. Of these, 25 were associated with the severe form and 52 were associated with both.

"A lot of the research focuses typically on the mother because it's a maternal condition, but it does support the fact that the fetus plays an important role in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia," Dr. Triche said in a statement.

"The gene sets and ontology groups identified through our systematic literature curation," the researchers write, "indicate that preeclampsia represents several distinct phenotypes with distinct and overlapping maternal and fetal genetic contributions."

Commenting on the approach by email, co-lead author Dr. Alper Uzun of Brown University Women & Infants Hospital told Reuters Health, "Bioinformatics tools are great assets to discover genes and gene networks responsible for complex diseases. In the near future, we will see them actively used in the clinical diagnosis."

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1kkEwJ0

Obstet Gynecol 2014.

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