652 research outputs found

    Questioning the fetal microbiome illustrates pitfalls of low-biomass microbial studies

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    Whether the human fetus and the prenatal intrauterine environment (amniotic fluid and placenta) are stably colonized by microbial communities in a healthy pregnancy remains a subject of debate. Here we evaluate recent studies that characterized microbial populations in human fetuses from the perspectives of reproductive biology, microbial ecology, bioinformatics, immunology, clinical microbiology and gnotobiology, and assess possible mechanisms by which the fetus might interact with microorganisms. Our analysis indicates that the detected microbial signals are likely the result of contamination during the clinical procedures to obtain fetal samples or during DNA extraction and DNA sequencing. Furthermore, the existence of live and replicating microbial populations in healthy fetal tissues is not compatible with fundamental concepts of immunology, clinical microbiology and the derivation of germ-free mammals. These conclusions are important to our understanding of human immune development and illustrate common pitfalls in the microbial analyses of many other low-biomass environments. The pursuit of a fetal microbiome serves as a cautionary example of the challenges of sequence-based microbiome studies when biomass is low or absent, and emphasizes the need for a trans-disciplinary approach that goes beyond contamination controls by also incorporating biological, ecological and mechanistic concepts

    Questioning the fetal microbiome illustrates pitfalls of low-biomass microbial studies

    No full text
    Whether the human fetus and the prenatal intrauterine environment (amniotic fluid and placenta) are stably colonized by microbial communities in a healthy pregnancy remains a subject of debate. Here we evaluate recent studies that characterized microbial populations in human fetuses from the perspectives of reproductive biology, microbial ecology, bioinformatics, immunology, clinical microbiology and gnotobiology, and assess possible mechanisms by which the fetus might interact with microorganisms. Our analysis indicates that the detected microbial signals are likely the result of contamination during the clinical procedures to obtain fetal samples or during DNA extraction and DNA sequencing. Furthermore, the existence of live and replicating microbial populations in healthy fetal tissues is not compatible with fundamental concepts of immunology, clinical microbiology and the derivation of germ-free mammals. These conclusions are important to our understanding of human immune development and illustrate common pitfalls in the microbial analyses of many other low-biomass environments. The pursuit of a fetal microbiome serves as a cautionary example of the challenges of sequence-based microbiome studies when biomass is low or absent, and emphasizes the need for a trans-disciplinary approach that goes beyond contamination controls by also incorporating biological, ecological and mechanistic concepts

    Questioning the fetal microbiome illustrates pitfalls of low-biomass microbial studies

    No full text
    Whether the human fetus and the prenatal intrauterine environment (amniotic fluid and placenta) are stably colonized by microbial communities in a healthy pregnancy remains a subject of debate. Here we evaluate recent studies that characterized microbial populations in human fetuses from the perspectives of reproductive biology, microbial ecology, bioinformatics, immunology, clinical microbiology and gnotobiology, and assess possible mechanisms by which the fetus might interact with microorganisms. Our analysis indicates that the detected microbial signals are likely the result of contamination during the clinical procedures to obtain fetal samples or during DNA extraction and DNA sequencing. Furthermore, the existence of live and replicating microbial populations in healthy fetal tissues is not compatible with fundamental concepts of immunology, clinical microbiology and the derivation of germ-free mammals. These conclusions are important to our understanding of human immune development and illustrate common pitfalls in the microbial analyses of many other low-biomass environments. The pursuit of a fetal microbiome serves as a cautionary example of the challenges of sequence-based microbiome studies when biomass is low or absent, and emphasizes the need for a trans-disciplinary approach that goes beyond contamination controls by also incorporating biological, ecological and mechanistic concepts

    Questioning the fetal microbiome illustrates pitfalls of low-biomass microbial studies.

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    Whether the human fetus and the prenatal intrauterine environment (amniotic fluid and placenta) are stably colonized by microbial communities in a healthy pregnancy remains a subject of debate. Here we evaluate recent studies that characterized microbial populations in human fetuses from the perspectives of reproductive biology, microbial ecology, bioinformatics, immunology, clinical microbiology and gnotobiology, and assess possible mechanisms by which the fetus might interact with microorganisms. Our analysis indicates that the detected microbial signals are likely the result of contamination during the clinical procedures to obtain fetal samples or during DNA extraction and DNA sequencing. Furthermore, the existence of live and replicating microbial populations in healthy fetal tissues is not compatible with fundamental concepts of immunology, clinical microbiology and the derivation of germ-free mammals. These conclusions are important to our understanding of human immune development and illustrate common pitfalls in the microbial analyses of many other low-biomass environments. The pursuit of a fetal microbiome serves as a cautionary example of the challenges of sequence-based microbiome studies when biomass is low or absent, and emphasizes the need for a trans-disciplinary approach that goes beyond contamination controls by also incorporating biological, ecological and mechanistic concepts.G.C.S.S. acknowledges funding from Medical Research Council (UK; MR/K021133/1) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (Women’s Health theme)

    RNA profiles reveal signatures of future health and disease in pregnancy

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    Maternal morbidity and mortality continue to rise, and pre-eclampsia is a major driver of this burden(1). Yet the ability to assess underlying pathophysiology before clinical presentation to enable identification of pregnancies at risk remains elusive. Here we demonstrate the ability of plasma cell-free RNA (cfRNA) to reveal patterns of normal pregnancy progression and determine the risk of developing pre-eclampsia months before clinical presentation. Our results centre on comprehensive transcriptome data from eight independent prospectively collected cohorts comprising 1,840 racially diverse pregnancies and retrospective analysis of 2,539 banked plasma samples. The pre-eclampsia data include 524 samples (72 cases and 452 non-cases) from two diverse independent cohorts collected 14.5 weeks (s.d., 4.5 weeks) before delivery. We show that cfRNA signatures from a single blood draw can track pregnancy progression at the placental, maternal and fetal levels and can robustly predict pre-eclampsia, with a sensitivity of 75% and a positive predictive value of 32.3% (s.d., 3%), which is superior to the state-of-the-art method(2). cfRNA signatures of normal pregnancy progression and pre-eclampsia are independent of clinical factors, such as maternal age, body mass index and race, which cumulatively account for less than 1% of model variance. Further, the cfRNA signature for pre-eclampsia contains gene features linked to biological processes implicated in the underlying pathophysiology of pre-eclampsia

    Intrauterine Inflammation Leads to Select Sex- and Age-Specific Behavior and Molecular Differences in Mice

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    Sex-specific differences in behavior have been observed in anxiety and learning in children exposed to prenatal inflammation; however, whether these behaviors manifest differently by age is unknown. This study assesses possible behavioral changes due to in utero inflammation as a function of age in neonatal, juvenile, and adult animals and presents potential molecular targets for observed differences. CD-1 timed pregnant dams were injected in utero with lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 50 ÎĽg/animal) or saline at embryonic day 15. No differences in stress responses were measured by neonatal ultrasonic vocalizations between LPS- and saline-exposed groups of either sex. By contrast, prenatal inflammation caused a male-specific increase in anxiety in mature but not juvenile animals. Juvenile LPS-exposed females had decreased movement in open field testing that was not present in adult animals. We additionally observed improved memory retrieval after in utero LPS in the juvenile animals of both sexes, which in males may be related to a perseverative phenotype. However, there was an impairment of long-term memory in only adult LPS-exposed females. Finally, gene expression analyses revealed that LPS induced sex-specific changes in genes involved in hippocampal neurogenesis. In conclusion, intrauterine inflammation has age- and sex-specific effects on anxiety and learning that may correlate to sex-specific disruption of gene expression associated with neurogenesis in the hippocampus

    Coronavirus disease 2019 vaccine response in pregnant and lactating women: a cohort study

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    BACKGROUND: Pregnant and lactating women were excluded from initial coronavirus disease 2019 vaccine trials; thus, data to guide vaccine decision making are lacking. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to evaluate the immunogenicity and reactogenicity of coronavirus disease 2019 messenger RNA vaccination in pregnant and lactating women compared with: (1) nonpregnant controls and (2) natural coronavirus disease 2019 infection in pregnancy. STUDY DESIGN: A total of 131 reproductive-age vaccine recipients (84 pregnant, 31 lactating, and 16 nonpregnant women) were enrolled in a prospective cohort study at 2 academic medical centers. Titers of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 spike and receptor-binding domain immunoglobulin G, immunoglobulin A, and immunoglobulin M were quantified in participant sera (n=131) and breastmilk (n=31) at baseline, at the second vaccine dose, at 2 to 6 weeks after the second vaccine, and at delivery by Luminex. Umbilical cord sera (n=10) titers were assessed at delivery. Titers were compared with those of pregnant women 4 to 12 weeks from the natural infection (n=37) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. A pseudovirus neutralization assay was used to quantify neutralizing antibody titers for the subset of women who delivered during the study period. Postvaccination symptoms were assessed via questionnaire. Kruskal-Wallis tests and a mixed-effects model, with correction for multiple comparisons, were used to assess differences among groups. RESULTS: Vaccine-induced antibody titers were equivalent in pregnant and lactating compared with nonpregnant women (pregnant, median, 5.59; interquartile range, 4.68–5.89; lactating, median, 5.74; interquartile range, 5.06–6.22; nonpregnant, median, 5.62; interquartile range, 4.77–5.98, P=.24). All titers were significantly higher than those induced by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection during pregnancy (P<.0001). Vaccine-generated antibodies were present in all umbilical cord blood and breastmilk samples. Neutralizing antibody titers were lower in umbilical cord than maternal sera, although this finding did not achieve statistical significance (maternal sera, median, 104.7; interquartile range, 61.2–188.2; cord sera, median, 52.3; interquartile range, 11.7–69.6; P=.05). The second vaccine dose (boost dose) increased severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2–specific immunoglobulin G, but not immunoglobulin A, in maternal blood and breastmilk. No differences were noted in reactogenicity across the groups. CONCLUSION: Coronavirus disease 2019 messenger RNA vaccines generated robust humoral immunity in pregnant and lactating women, with immunogenicity and reactogenicity similar to that observed in nonpregnant women. Vaccine-induced immune responses were statistically significantly greater than the response to natural infection. Immune transfer to neonates occurred via placenta and breastmilk

    Soluble Flt1 levels are associated with cardiac dysfunction in Black women with and without severe preeclampsia

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    Background: We evaluate soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1) levels and cardiac function during pregnancy and postpartum among Black women with and without preeclampsia. Study design: Prospective longitudinal cohort study from 2015 to 2017 of Black women with preterm severe preeclampsia and normotensive pregnant controls.We obtained echocardiograms and sFlt-1 levels during pregnancy and postpartum. Results: 93 Black women were included (43 cases, 50 controls). Higher sFlt1 levels were correlated with worse longitudinal strain, diastolic dysfunction, decreased ventricular-arterial coupling, and increased chamber and arterial elastance at the time of preeclampsia diagnosis and postpartum. Conclusions: Higher sFlt1 levels are associated with cardiovascular dysfunction during pregnancy and postpartum
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