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Systematic review of transcriptome and microRNAome associations with gestational diabetes mellitus.



Gestational diabetes (GDM) is associated with increased risk for preterm birth and related complications for both the pregnant person and newborn. Changes in gene expression have the potential to characterize complex interactions between genetic and behavioral/environmental risk factors for GDM. Our goal was to summarize the state of the science about changes in gene expression and GDM.


The systematic review was conducted using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines.


PubMed articles about humans, in English, from any date were included if they described mRNA transcriptome or microRNA findings from blood samples in adults with GDM compared with adults without GDM.


Sixteen articles were found representing 1355 adults (n=674 with GDM, n=681 controls) from 12 countries. Three studies reported transcriptome results and thirteen reported microRNA findings. Identified pathways described various aspects of diabetes pathogenesis, including glucose and insulin signaling, regulation, and transport; natural killer cell mediated cytotoxicity; and fatty acid biosynthesis and metabolism. Studies described 135 unique miRNAs that were associated with GDM, of which eight (miR-16-5p, miR-17-5p, miR-20a-5p, miR-29a-3p, miR-195-5p, miR-222-3p, miR-210-3p, and miR-342-3p) were described in 2 or more studies. Findings suggest that miRNA levels vary based on the time in pregnancy when GDM develops, the time point at which they were measured, sex assigned at birth of the offspring, and both the pre-pregnancy and gestational body mass index of the pregnant person.


The mRNA, miRNA, gene targets, and pathways identified in this review contribute to our understanding of GDM pathogenesis; however, further research is warranted to validate previous findings. In particular, longitudinal repeated-measures designs are needed that control for participant characteristics (e.g., weight), use standardized data collection methods and analysis tools, and are sufficiently powered to detect differences between subgroups. Findings may be used to improve early diagnosis, prevention, medication choice and/or clinical treatment of patients with GDM.

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