Exposure to gestational diabetes enriches immune-related pathways in the transcriptome and methylome of human amniocytes

Sara E. Pinney, Apoorva Joshi, Victoria Yin, So Won Min, Cetewayo Rashid, David E. Condon, Paul Zhipang Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Context: Gestational diabetes (GDM) has profound effects on the intrauterine metabolic milieu and is linked to obesity and diabetes in offspring, but the mechanisms driving these effects remain largely unknown. Alterations in DNA methylation and gene expression in amniocytes exposed to GDM in utero represent a potential mechanism leading to metabolic dysfunction later in life. Objective: To profile changes in genome-wide DNA methylation and expression in human amniocytes exposed to GDM. Design: A nested case-control study (n = 14 pairs) was performed in amniocytes matched for offspring sex, maternal race/ethnicity, maternal age, gestational age at amniocentesis, and gestational age at birth. Sex-specific genome-wide DNA methylation analysis and RNA-sequencing were completed and differentially methylated regions (DMRs) and gene expression changes were identified. Ingenuity pathway analysis identified biologically relevant pathways enriched after GDM exposure. In silico high-throughput chromosome conformation capture (Hi-C) analysis identified potential chromatin interactions with DMRs. Results: Expression of interferon-stimulated genes was increased in GDM amniocytes, accounting for 6 of the top 10 altered genes (q < 0.05). Enriched biological pathways in GDM amniocytes included pathways involving inflammation, the interferon response, fatty liver disease, monogenic diabetes, and atherosclerosis. Forty-two DMRs were identified in male GDM-exposed amniocytes and 20 in female amniocyte analysis (q < 0.05). Hi-C analysis identified interactions between DMRs and 11 genes with significant expression changes in male amniocytes and 9 in female amniocytes (P < .05). Conclusion: In a unique repository of human amniocytes exposed to GDM in utero, transcriptome analysis identified enrichment of inflammation and interferon-related pathways and novel DMRs with potential distal regulatory functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3250-3264
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Endocrine Society 2020. All rights reserved.


  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • Fetal programming
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Immune activation
  • Interferon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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