• Placental FKBP51 mediates a link between second trimester maternal anxiety and birthweight in female infants.

      Togher, Katie L; O'Keeffe, Gerard W; Khashan, Ali S; Clarke, Gerard; Kenny, Louise C; Cork University Maternity Hospital and University College Cork (Scientific Reports, 2018-10-11)
      Prenatal distress is associated with adverse outcomes in affected offspring. Alterations in placental glucocorticoid signalling and subsequent foetal overexposure to glucocorticoids have been implicated as an underlying mechanism. Infant sex is emerging as an important factor in disease susceptibility. This study aimed to examine the effects of maternal distress across pregnancy on birth outcomes and placental glucocorticoid genes in a sex-dependent manner. Participants completed psychological distress questionnaires throughout pregnancy. Placental HSD11B2, NR3C1 and FKBP51 were analysed by real time PCR and cortisol was measured in new-born hair. Second trimester stress was negatively correlated with birthweight in males and positively correlated with placental NR3C1 mRNA in females. Second trimester anxiety was negatively correlated with birthweight and placental FKBP51 mRNA in females. In mediation analysis, placental FKBP51 mRNA expression was found to mediate the link between prenatal anxiety and birthweight. New-born cortisol was negatively correlated with second trimester anxiety and positively correlated with female placental FKBP51 mRNA levels. Again, FKBP51 mRNA was found to mediate the link between anxiety and new-born cortisol. These results highlight a role for FKBP51 in the placental response to prenatal distress in females. The precise role that placental FKBP51 has in foetal and infant development has not been extensively studied and warrants further investigations.