Micro RNA clusters in maternal plasma are associated with preterm birth and infant outcomes.
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The current study examined micro RNA (miRNAs) clusters from the maternal plasma to determine their association with preterm birth (PTB) and infant birth outcomes. A subsample of 42 participants who spontaneously delivered either preterm (37 weeks) or term was selected from a parent sample of 515 pregnant Mexican American women. Plasma samples and prenatal data were collected at a single mid-gestation time point (22-24 weeks' gestation) and birth outcomes were obtained from medical records after delivery. Circulating miRNAs were analyzed by qPCR. When miRNAs were grouped according to chromosomal cluster rather than expression level, individual miRNAs correlated strongly with other individual miRNAs within their respective genomic locus. miRNAs from the c19mc cluster negatively correlated with c14mc miRNAs, and this relationship was more pronounced in PTB. Clusters c14mc was negatively associated with length of gestation; while the c19mc was positively associated with length of gestation and infant head circumference. Together, these findings suggest that groups of miRNAs from common chromosomal clusters, rather than individual miRNAs, operate as co-regulated groups of signaling molecules to coordinate length of gestation and infant outcomes. From this evidence, differences in cluster-wide expression of miRNAs are involved in spontaneous PTB.