Sci Rep. 2022 Oct 25;12(1):17856. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-22507-3.
Pre-eclampsia (PE) is a hypertensive condition that occurs during pregnancy and complicates up to 4% of pregnancies. PE exhibits several circadian-related characteristics, and the placenta possesses a functioning molecular clock. We examined the associations of 17 core circadian gene transcripts in placenta with PE vs. non-PE (a mixture of pregnant women with term, preterm, small-for-gestational-age, or chorioamnionitis) using two independent gene expression datasets: GSE75010-157 (80 PE vs. 77 non-PE) and GSE75010-173 (77 PE and 96 non-PE). We found a robust difference in circadian gene expression between PE and non-PE across the two datasets, where CRY1 mRNA increases and NR1D2 and PER3 transcripts decrease in PE placenta. Gene set variation analysis revealed an interplay between co-alterations of circadian clock genes and PE with altered hypoxia, cell migration/invasion, autophagy, and membrane trafficking pathways. Using human placental trophoblast HTR-8 cells, we show that CRY1/2 and NR1D1/2 regulate trophoblast migration. A subgroup study including only term samples demonstrated that CLOCK, NR1D2, and PER3 transcripts were simultaneously decreased in PE placenta, a finding supported by CLOCK protein downregulation in an independent cohort of human term PE placenta samples. These findings provide novel insights into the roles of the molecular clock in the pathogenesis of PE.