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Spontaneous Abortions: Chlamydia and microRNAs 

Chlamydia trachomatis inclusion bodies as seen under microscope. Image: NIAID via Wikimedia commons

One of the major causes of recurrent spontaneous abortions is Chlamydia trachomatis, a sexually transmitted bacterial infection. There are many reports that suggest Chlamydia modulates uterine circulating micro-RNAs. This could possibly trigger spontaneous abortions. But which miRNAs are involved and can we detect any of them easily, in blood or urine, to identify women at risk?

Sangita Rastogi and her team from the ICMR-National Institute of Pathology, New Delhi recently analysed six important pregnancy-associated uterine miRNAs in the urine and blood of C. trachomatis infected women to identify potential miRNA markers for spontaneous abortions. 

They collected the blood and urine samples of 30 non-pregnant women with a history of successful deliveries and 30 with a history of recurrent spontaneous abortions from Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi. And they analysed Chlamydia-specific IgG antibodies in serum samples as well as the expression of the selected miRNAs in urine and blood samples. Samples from eight patients and one control were positive for Chlamydia-specific IgG antibodies.

Based on whether the women were infected or not, the team stratified the women with recurrent abortions into two groups: those with the infection and those without. They then examined the expression of miRNAs in patients with Chlamydia infection and patients without the infection as well as controls with no infection.

In women with Chlamydia infection and recurrent abortions, two miRNAs were seen to be affected: miR-559 was significantly downregulated and miR-16 was upregulated.

Which genes do these miRNAs target, wondered the researchers.

Using bioinformatic tools, such as miRDB, TargetScan and miRWalk, they identified target genes for the selected miRNAs. Using the Kyoto encyclopaedia of genes and genomes and gene ontology pathway resources, they could also predict possible pathways involved. 

The researchers found that the two dysregulated miRNAs, miR-559 and miR-16, prompt the differential expression of genes involved in cell adhesion as well as the signalling of metabolic pathways. Thus, they affect the implantation and growth of the embryo – possible reasons for spontaneous abortions.

The researchers suggest that miR-559 and miR-16 can serve as biomarkers for diagnosiing Chlamydia trachomatis-induced recurrent spontaneous abortions. Since these miRNAs can be easily detected in urine, pregnant women at risk of recurrent spontaneous abortions can now be identified and treated with antibiotics against Chlamydia

DOI: 10.1016/j.micpath.2021.105156

Dhatri Madduru
Osmania University

Editors’ note: This report was written as a part of the work in the ongoing online workshop on science writing organised by Current Science.

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Categorised in: Delhi, Diagnostics, Medicine, Science

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