Natural disaster-related prenatal maternal stress is associated with alterations in placental glucocorticoid system: The QF2011 Queensland Flood Study.

TitleNatural disaster-related prenatal maternal stress is associated with alterations in placental glucocorticoid system: The QF2011 Queensland Flood Study.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSt-Pierre J, Laplante DP, Elgbeili G, Dawson PA, Kildea S, King S, Vaillancourt C
JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
Volume94
Pagination38-48
Date Published2018 Aug
ISSN1873-3360
Abstract

We investigated the effects of a natural disaster (a sudden flood) as a source of prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) on the placental glucocorticoid system and glucose transporters. Whether the gestational age at the time of the flood moderated these effects was also evaluated. Placental samples were collected from participants in the 2011 Queensland Flood Study (QF2011) who were pregnant in the first or second trimester at the onset of the flood. Detailed questionnaire results for objective hardship and composite subjective distress were obtained to assess stress levels. Subjective distress was significantly associated with a reduction in placental NR3C1-β mRNA levels for males only (β = -0.491, p = 0.005). In female placentas, objective hardship was marginally linked with lower SLC2A1 mRNA levels while subjective distress was a marginally significant predictor of higher placental SLC2A4 mRNA levels. Gestational age at the time of the flood was a significant moderator of the effect of subjective distress on placental mRNA levels for NR3C1-α (p = 0.046) and HSD11B1 (p = 0.049) in male placentas: if the flood occurred in mid-pregnancy, lower subjective distress predicted higher HSD11B1 while higher subjective distress predicted lower NR3C1-α placental mRNA level. While results did not show any PNMS effects on placental HSD11B2 mRNA and protein levels, and activity, we showed a reduction in placental NR3C1-β mRNA level in male placentas. Our results show evidence of distinct placental glucocorticoid and glucose systems adaptations to PNMS as a function of fetal sex and gestational timing of exposure, with high subjective PNMS in mid-pregnancy associated with lower levels of expression of glucocorticoid-promoting gene in males, leaving the fetus less protected against maternal stress. The exact mechanism by which natural disaster-related PNMS acts on the placenta and the impact on fetal programming requires further investigation.

DOI10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.04.027
Alternate JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
PubMed ID29754004

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