Epigenetic Profiling in the Saliva of Obese Pregnant Women

Nutrients. 2022 May 19;14(10):2122. doi: 10.3390/nu14102122.


Maternal obesity is associated with inflammation and oxidative stress, strongly impacting the intrauterine environment with detrimental consequences for both mother and offspring. The saliva is a non-invasive biofluid reflecting both local and systemic health status. This observational study aimed to profile the epigenetic signature in the saliva of Obese (OB) and Normal-Weight (NW) pregnant women. Sixteen NW and sixteen OB Caucasian women with singleton spontaneous pregnancies were enrolled. microRNAs were quantified by the OpenArray Platform. The promoter region methylation of Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling 3 (SOCS3) and Transforming Growth Factor Beta 1 (TGF-Beta1) was assessed by pyrosequencing. There were 754 microRNAs evaluated: 20 microRNAs resulted in being differentially expressed between OB and NW. microRNA pathway enrichment analysis showed a significant association with the TGF-Beta signaling pathway (miTALOS) and with fatty acids biosynthesis/metabolism, lysine degradation, and ECM-receptor interaction pathways (DIANA-miRPath). Both SOCS3 and TGF-Beta1 were significantly down-methylated in OB vs. NW. These results help to clarify impaired mechanisms involved in obesity and pave the way for the understanding of specific damaged pathways. The characterization of the epigenetic profile in saliva of pregnant women can represent a promising tool for the identification of obesity-related altered mechanisms and of possible biomarkers for early diagnosis and treatment of pregnancy-adverse conditions.

Keywords: DNA methylation; GDM; epigenetics; inflammation; maternal obesity; miRNA; oxidative stress; periodontal disease; pregnancy; saliva.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • Obesity* / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / genetics
  • Pregnant Women
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling 3 Protein / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / genetics


  • MicroRNAs
  • SOCS3 protein, human
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling 3 Protein
  • TGFB1 protein, human
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1