To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Glucocorticoids and serotonin may mediate the link between maternal environment, fetal brain development and ‘programming’ of offspring behaviors. The placenta regulates fetal exposure to maternal hormonal signals in animal studies, but few data address this in humans. We measured prospectively maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy and mRNAs encoding key gene products determining glucocorticoid and serotonin function in term human placenta and explored associations with infant regulatory behaviors.
Bi-weekly self-ratings of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale from 12th to 13th gestational week onwards and term placental mRNAs of 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (HSD2B11), type 1 (HSD1B11), glucocorticoid (NR3C1), mineralocorticoid receptors (NR3C2) and serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) were obtained from 54 healthy mothers aged 32.2 ± 5.3 years with singleton pregnancies and without pregnancy complications. Infant regulatory behaviors (crying, feeding, spitting, elimination, sleeping and predictability) were mother-rated at 15.6 ± 4.2 days.
Higher placental mRNA levels of HSD2B11 [0.41 standard deviation (s.d.) unit increase per s.d. unit increase; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.13–0.69, p = 0.005], HSD1B11 (0.30, 0.03–0.57, p = 0.03), NR3C1 (0.44, 0.19–0.68, p = 0.001) and SLC6A4 (0.26, 0.00–0.53, p = 0.05) were associated with more regulatory behavioral challenges of the infant. Higher placental NR3C1 mRNA partly mediated the association between maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy and infant regulatory behaviors (p < 0.05).
Higher placental expression of genes regulating feto-placental glucocorticoid and serotonin exposure is characteristic of infants with more regulatory behavioral challenges. Maternal depression acts, at least partly, via altering glucocorticoid action in the placenta to impact on offspring regulatory behaviors.
Maternal prenatal depression predicts post-partum depression and increases risk of prematurity and low birth weight. These effects may be mediated by altered placental function. We hypothesized that placental function would be influenced by the gestational week of experiencing depressive symptoms and aimed to examine associations between maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy and placental expression of genes involved in glucocorticoid and serotonin transfer between mother and fetus.
We studied women participating in a prospective pregnancy cohort: the Prediction and Prevention of Preeclampsia (PREDO) Study, Helsinki, Finland. Maternal depressive symptoms were assessed at 2-week intervals throughout pregnancy in 56 healthy women with singleton, term pregnancies. Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) levels of glucocorticoid (GR) and mineralocorticoid (MR) receptors and serotonin transporter (SLC6A4), 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (HSD1) and 2 (HSD2) were quantified in placental biopsies.
In adjusted analyses women who reported higher depressive symptoms across the whole pregnancy had higher mRNA levels of GR [effect size 0.31 s.d. units, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.01–0.60, p = 0.042] and MR (effect size 0.34 s.d. units, 95% CI 0.01–0.68, p = 0.047). These effects were significant for symptoms experienced in the third trimester of pregnancy for GR; findings for MR were also significant for symptoms experienced in the second trimester. GR and MR mRNA levels increased linearly by having the trimester-specific depressive symptoms scores 0, 1 or 2–3 times above the clinical cut-off for depression (p = 0.003, p = 0.049, respectively, and p = 0.004, p = 0.15 in adjusted analyses).
Our findings offer potential gestational-age-specific mechanisms linking maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy via placental biology. Future studies will test whether these also link with adverse offspring outcomes.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.