INTRODUCTION: The pathophysiology of preeclampsia is largely unknown. Serum placental induced growth factor (PlGF) levels are decreased during second trimester pregnancy. Aberrant DNA methylation is suggested to be involved in the etiology of preeclampsia (PE). We hypothesize that DNA methylation is altered in PE placentas determined the methylation index by measuring placental S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) and S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH) levels. In addition, we assessed global DNA methylation status by long-interspersed nuclear element-1 (LINE-1) and DNA methylation status of the PlGF gene. METHODS: Placental tissue of 11 early onset PE (EOPE), 11 late onset PE (LOPE) and 60 controls consisting of 25 uncomplicated controls 20 fetal growth restriction (FGR) and 15 preterm births (PTB) controls was collected from a nested case-control study of The Rotterdam Periconceptional Cohort. RNA and DNA was isolated from placental tissue and DNA was treated with sodium bisulfite. SAM and SAH levels were measured by LC-ESI-MS/MS. Methylation of LINE-1 and PlGF genes was analyzed by Sequenom Epityper and. mRNA expression of PlGF was assessed with qPCR. Differences were assessed by analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) corrected for gestational age and birth weight. RESULTS: Placental SAM levels were significantly lower in placental tissue of EOPE pregnancies compared to PTB controls (mean difference -240 ± 71.4 nmol/g protein, P = 0.01). PlGF DNA methylation was decreased in placental tissue of EOPE cases versus LOPE (mean difference -17.4 ± 5.1%, P = 0.01), uncomplicated controls (mean difference -23.4 ± 5.4%%, P <0.001), FGR controls (mean difference -17.9 ± 4.6%, P = 0.002) and PTB controls (mean difference -11.3 ± 3.8% P = 0.04). No significant differences were observed in SAH, SAM:SAH ratio, LINE-1 DNA methylation and PlGF mRNA expression between groups. DISCUSSION: The hypomethylation state of the placenta in EOPE, which is reflected by lower SAM and PlGF DNA hypomethylation underlines the possible role of placental DNA hypomethylation in the pathophysiology of EOPE, which needs further investigation.

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Journal PLoS ONE
Heil, S.G, Herzog, E.M, Griffioen, P.H, van Zelst, B.D, Willemsen, S.P, de Rijke, Y.B, … Steegers, E.A.P. (2019). Lower S-adenosylmethionine levels and DNA hypomethylation of placental growth factor (PlGF) in placental tissue of early-onset preeclampsia-complicated pregnancies. PLoS ONE, 14(12). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0226969