Skip Navigation


Export to Word (
Principal Investigator: Paquette, Alison Genevieve
Institute Receiving Award Seattle Children'S Hospital
Location Seattle, WA
Grant Number R01ES033785
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 11 Jan 2023 to 31 Oct 2027
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): PROJECT SUMMARY Spontaneous preterm birth (sPTB) comprises the majority of preterm births (60%) and is a leading case of newborn morbidity and death and a predictor of adverse health outcomes. Despite its high prevalence, there is a limited understanding of how the in-utero environment contributes to the etiology of sPTB. Phthalates are ubiquitous endocrine disrupting chemicals that induce gene expression and physiological changes within the placenta. Epidemiological studies identify a consistent positive relationship between prenatal phthalate exposure and preterm birth. The goal of this study is to develop placental molecular signatures that can be used to mechanistically link prenatal phthalate exposure and sPTB. Placental molecular signatures can explain functional differences related to sPTB and identify targets for clinical and therapeutic interventions, including modifiable risk factors such as environmental exposures. Our research team has generated the largest placental transcriptomics dataset to date (N=760 samples) and has used this to develop transcriptomic signatures of prenatal phthalate exposure and sPTB. This study will expand our existing transcriptomic signatures to include microRNAs, which are essential to a complete molecular signature because they are highly stable, have been linked to a number of environmental exposures, and are secreted into maternal circulation where they may serve as biomarkers. Candidate microRNA studies have identified correlations between prenatal phthalate exposure and expression of placental microRNAs, but a comprehensive assessment is needed to fully understand the role of placental microRNAs in phthalate mediated toxicity. Moreover, despite the potential importance of placental microRNAs as a biomarker of sPTB, there has not been a comprehensive analysis. In this proposal, we seek to fill these research gaps and apply innovative computational biology strategies with rigorous epidemiological approaches to gain insight into the mechanistic links between prenatal phthalate exposure, placental function, and sPTB. In aim 1, we will generate microRNA data on placental samples and use this to generate a signature of prenatal phthalate exposure. We will use the matched microRNA-mRNA sequencing data to construct a global placental microRNA-mRNA network, which we will apply to identify connections between microRNAs and genes whose placenta expression is associated with different phthalate metabolites. In Aim two, we will develop a multi- omic molecular signature of sPTB using our placental microRNA-mRNA network. In aim 3, we will examine the role of the placenta as a mechanistic link between prenatal phthalate exposure and sPTB by interdisciplinary strategies including an integrated pathway analysis and a formal mediation analysis. Findings from this study will inform chemical toxicological risk assessment and policy to reduce health impacts due to phthalate exposure in pregnancy. microRNA signatures of sPTB may serve as functional biomarkers of sPTB since they can be secreted into maternal circulation and be targets for clinical and therapeutic intervention in the future.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 66 - Female Reproduction
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications See publications associated with this Grant.
Program Officer Thaddeus Schug
to Top