Adverse Intrauterine Environment and Cardiac miRNA Expression.

10 Apr 2018

Placental insufficiency, high altitude pregnancies, maternal obesity/diabetes, maternal undernutrition and stress can result in a poor setting for growth of the developing fetus. These adverse intrauterine environments result in physiological changes to the developing heart that impact how the heart will function in postnatal life. The intrauterine environment plays a key role in the complex interplay between genes and the epigenetic mechanisms that regulate their expression. In this review we describe how an adverse intrauterine environment can influence the expression of miRNAs (a sub-set of non-coding RNAs) and how these changes may impact heart development. Potential consequences of altered miRNA expression in the fetal heart include; Hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) activation, dysregulation of angiogenesis, mitochondrial abnormalities and altered glucose and fatty acid transport/metabolism. It is important to understand how miRNAs are altered in these adverse environments to identify key pathways that can be targeted using miRNA mimics or inhibitors to condition an improved developmental response.