Abstract

Preeclampsia and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) are the most common clinical conditions in pregnancy that could result in adverse in utero environments. Fetal exposure to poor environments may raise the long-term risk of postnatal disorders, while epigenetic modifications could be involved. Recent research has implicated involvement of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), a DNA base derived from 5-methylcytosine, via oxidation by ten–eleven translocation (TET) enzymes, in DNA methylation-related plasticity. Here, we show that the TET2 expression and 5hmC abundance are significantly altered in the umbilical veins of GDM and preeclampsia. Genome-wide profiling of 5hmC revealed its specific reduction on intragenic regions from both GDM and preeclampsia compared to healthy controls. Gene Ontology analysis using loci bearing unique GDM- and preeclampsia-specific loss-of-5hmC indicated its impact on several critical biological pathways. Interestingly, the substantial alteration of 5hmC on several transposons and repetitive elements led to their differential expression. The alteration of TET expression, 5hmC levels and 5hmC-mediated transposon activity was further confirmed using established hypoxia cell culture model, which could be rescued by vitamin C, a known activator of TET proteins. Together, these results suggest that adverse pregnancy environments could influence 5hmC-mediated epigenetic profile and contribute to abnormal development of fetal vascular systems that may lead to postnatal diseases.

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