Preeclampsia Drives Molecular Networks to Shift Toward Greater Vulnerability to the Development of Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Preeclampsia (PE) confers a significant risk for subsequent diagnosis with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with the mechanisms underlying this observation being largely unknown. To identify molecular networks affected by both PE and ASD, we conducted a large-scale literature data mining and a gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA), followed by an expression mega-analysis in 13 independently profiled ASD datasets. Sets of genes implicated in ASD and in PE significantly overlap (156 common genes; p = 3.14E−67), with many biological pathways shared (94 pathways; p < 1.00E−21). A set of PE-driven molecular triggers possibly contributing to worsening the risk of subsequent ASD was identified, possibly representing a regulatory shift toward greater vulnerability to the development of ASD. Mega-analysis of expression highlighted RPS4Y1, an inhibitor of STAT3 that is expressed in a sexually dimorphic manner, as a contributor to both PE and ASD, which should be evaluated as a possible contributor to male predominance in ASD. A set of PE-driven molecular triggers may shift the developing brain toward a greater risk of ASD. One of these triggers, chromosome Y encoded gene RPS4Y1, an inhibitor of STAT3 signaling, warrants evaluation as a possible contributor to male predominance in ASD.

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