Poster Annual Conference of the Genetics Society of Australasia with the NZ Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Predicting altered methylation patterns in early pre-eclampsia (778)

Suzan Almomani 1 , Ian Morison 1 , Noelyn Hung 1 , Tania Slatter 1 , Erin Macaulay 1
  1. Department of Pathology, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Pre-eclampsia is one of the most common adverse pregnancy conditions that complicates 5-10% of pregnancies worldwide, yet the underlying cause is unknown. The use of biomarkers to accurately identify women with an increased risk of developing pre-eclampsia would be a major step forward in antenatal care. Our lab previously performed genome-wide methylation sequencing to identify DNA methylation differences between dysfunctional pre-eclamptic placentas and matched healthy controls. Validation studies are currently being performed in an independent cohort to determine which of the identified methylation changes are representative features of pre-eclampsia. The early detection of methylation changes in pre-eclampsia would provide a feasible route to early diagnosis and potential intervention. We are currently determining whether our panel of candidate biomarkers for pre-eclampsia can be identified in the circulating cell-free placental DNA that comprises approximately 10% of a pregnant women’s blood plasma. We are performing deep sequencing using the MiSeq platform to examine the methylation of placental DNA in maternal plasma. We will measure the methylation of our candidate biomarkers in plasma samples from early gestation (15 and 20 weeks) and determine whether their differential methylation can be reliably profiled in maternal plasma from women who later developed pre-eclampsia. Ultimately, we seek to identify a DNA methylation signature of pre-eclampsia in maternal blood plasma that can be used clinically to predict women who are at risk of developing this threatening condition of pregnancy.