Stephen Quake, Doctoral Dissertation Advisor (AC)
Investigating Pregnancy and Its Complications Using Circulating Cell-Free RNA in Women's Blood During Gestation.
Frontiers in pediatrics
2020; 8: 605219
In recent years, there have been major advances in the application of non-invasive techniques to predict pregnancy-related complications, for example by measuring cell-free RNA (cfRNA) in maternal blood. In contrast to cell-free DNA (cfDNA), which is already in clinical use to diagnose fetal aneuploidy, circulating RNA levels can correspond with tissue-specific gene expression and provide a snapshot of prenatal health across gestation. Here, we review the physiologic origins of cfRNA and its novel applications and corresponding challenges to monitor fetal and maternal health and predict pregnancy-related complications.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fped.2020.605219
View details for PubMedID 33381480
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7767905
Noninvasive blood tests for fetal development predict gestational age and preterm delivery
2018; 360 (6393): 1133–36
Noninvasive blood tests that provide information about fetal development and gestational age could potentially improve prenatal care. Ultrasound, the current gold standard, is not always affordable in low-resource settings and does not predict spontaneous preterm birth, a leading cause of infant death. In a pilot study of 31 healthy pregnant women, we found that measurement of nine cell-free RNA (cfRNA) transcripts in maternal blood predicted gestational age with comparable accuracy to ultrasound but at substantially lower cost. In a related study of 38 women (23 full-term and 15 preterm deliveries), all at elevated risk of delivering preterm, we identified seven cfRNA transcripts that accurately classified women who delivered preterm up to 2 months in advance of labor. These tests hold promise for prenatal care in both the developed and developing worlds, although they require validation in larger, blinded clinical trials.
View details for PubMedID 29880692
Understanding how biologic and social determinants affect disparities in preterm birth and outcomes of preterm infants in the NICU.
Seminars in perinatology
To understand the disparities in spontaneous preterm birth (sPTB) and/or its outcomes, biologic and social determinants as well as healthcare practice (such as those in neonatal intensive care units) should be considered. They have been largely intractable and remain obscure in most cases, despite a myriad of identified risk factors for and causes of sPTB. We still do not know how they might actually affect and lead to the different outcomes at different gestational ages and if they are independent of NICU practices. Here we describe an integrated approach to study the interplay between the genome and exposome, which may drive biochemistry and physiology, with health disparities.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.semperi.2021.151408
View details for PubMedID 33875265
- Towards personalized medicine in maternal and child health: integrating biologic and social determinants. Pediatric research 2020
Multiomic immune clockworks of pregnancy.
Seminars in immunopathology
Preterm birth is the leading cause of mortality in children under the age of five worldwide. Despite major efforts, we still lack the ability to accurately predict and effectively prevent preterm birth. While multiple factors contribute to preterm labor, dysregulations of immunological adaptations required for the maintenance of a healthy pregnancy is at its pathophysiological core. Consequently, a precise understanding of these chronologically paced immune adaptations and of the biological pacemakers that synchronize the pregnancy "immune clock" is a critical first step towards identifying deviations that are hallmarks of peterm birth. Here, we will review key elements of the fetal, placental, and maternal pacemakers that program the immune clock of pregnancy. We will then emphasize multiomic studies that enable a more integrated view of pregnancy-related immune adaptations. Such multiomic assessments can strengthen the biological plausibility of immunological findings and increase the power of biological signatures predictive of preterm birth.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s00281-019-00772-1
View details for PubMedID 32020337
Multiomics Characterization of Preterm Birth in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.
JAMA network open
2020; 3 (12): e2029655
Worldwide, preterm birth (PTB) is the single largest cause of deaths in the perinatal and neonatal period and is associated with increased morbidity in young children. The cause of PTB is multifactorial, and the development of generalizable biological models may enable early detection and guide therapeutic studies.To investigate the ability of transcriptomics and proteomics profiling of plasma and metabolomics analysis of urine to identify early biological measurements associated with PTB.This diagnostic/prognostic study analyzed plasma and urine samples collected from May 2014 to June 2017 from pregnant women in 5 biorepository cohorts in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs; ie, Matlab, Bangladesh; Lusaka, Zambia; Sylhet, Bangladesh; Karachi, Pakistan; and Pemba, Tanzania). These cohorts were established to study maternal and fetal outcomes and were supported by the Alliance for Maternal and Newborn Health Improvement and the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth biorepositories. Data were analyzed from December 2018 to July 2019.Blood and urine specimens that were collected early during pregnancy (median sampling time of 13.6 weeks of gestation, according to ultrasonography) were processed, stored, and shipped to the laboratories under uniform protocols. Plasma samples were assayed for targeted measurement of proteins and untargeted cell-free ribonucleic acid profiling; urine samples were assayed for metabolites.The PTB phenotype was defined as the delivery of a live infant before completing 37 weeks of gestation.Of the 81 pregnant women included in this study, 39 had PTBs (48.1%) and 42 had term pregnancies (51.9%) (mean [SD] age of 24.8 [5.3] years). Univariate analysis demonstrated functional biological differences across the 5 cohorts. A cohort-adjusted machine learning algorithm was applied to each biological data set, and then a higher-level machine learning modeling combined the results into a final integrative model. The integrated model was more accurate, with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) of 0.83 (95% CI, 0.72-0.91) compared with the models derived for each independent biological modality (transcriptomics AUROC, 0.73 [95% CI, 0.61-0.83]; metabolomics AUROC, 0.59 [95% CI, 0.47-0.72]; and proteomics AUROC, 0.75 [95% CI, 0.64-0.85]). Primary features associated with PTB included an inflammatory module as well as a metabolomic module measured in urine associated with the glutamine and glutamate metabolism and valine, leucine, and isoleucine biosynthesis pathways.This study found that, in LMICs and high PTB settings, major biological adaptations during term pregnancy follow a generalizable model and the predictive accuracy for PTB was augmented by combining various omics data sets, suggesting that PTB is a condition that manifests within multiple biological systems. These data sets, with machine learning partnerships, may be a key step in developing valuable predictive tests and intervention candidates for preventing PTB.
View details for DOI 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.29655
View details for PubMedID 33337494
Understanding health disparities.
Journal of perinatology : official journal of the California Perinatal Association
Based upon our recent insights into the determinants of preterm birth, which is the leading cause of death in children under five years of age worldwide, we describe potential analytic frameworks that provides both a common understanding and, ultimately the basis for effective, ameliorative action. Our research on preterm birth serves as an example that the framing of any human health condition is a result of complex interactions between the genome and the exposome. New discoveries of the basic biology of pregnancy, such as the complex immunological and signaling processes that dictate the health and length of gestation, have revealed a complexity in the interactions (current and ancestral) between genetic and environmental forces. Understanding of these relationships may help reduce disparities in preterm birth and guide productive research endeavors and ultimately, effective clinical and public health interventions.
View details for PubMedID 30560947