Purpose of the review: This review focuses on the recent emergence of microRNAs (miRNAs) as metabolic and developmental regulators in pregnancy and their role in the development of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). MiRNAs are short and stable RNA sequences that repress protein synthesis through interference with messenger RNA translation.
Recent findings: The placenta produces numerous miRNAs with some of them being released in the maternal circulation. These miRNA genes are encoded into specific clusters and expressed preferentially by placental cells, in a time-dependent manner. They were shown to be dysregulated in plasma and placenta from women suffering from GDM and associated with pregnancy and birth-related outcomes. The discovery of pregnancy-related miRNAs and their respective characterization will provide us with important information as to their function in maternal and placental metabolic regulation. More studies are needed to determine whether they will be useful for early screening of GDM.
Keywords: Epigenetics; Glucose; Insulin resistance; Placenta; Placental injury; Pregnancy; Pregnancy complications; Transcriptomics.