The peripheral whole-blood transcriptome of acute pyelonephritis in human pregnancy

Ichchha Madan, Nandor Gabor Than, Roberto Romero, Piya Chaemsaithong, Jezid Miranda, Adi L. Tarca, Gaurav Bhatti, Sorin Draghici, Lami Yeo, Moshe Mazor, Sonia S. Hassan, Tinnakorn Chaiworapongsa

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Scopus citations


    Objective: Human pregnancy is characterized by activation of the innate immune response and suppression of adaptive immunity. The former is thought to provide protection against infection for the mother, and the latter, tolerance against paternal antigens expressed in fetal cells. Acute pyelonephritis is associated with an increased risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome and sepsis in pregnant (vs. nonpregnant) women. The objective of this study was to describe the gene expression profile (transcriptome) of maternal whole blood in acute pyelonephritis. Method: A case-control study was conducted to include pregnant women with acute pyelonephritis (n=15) and women with a normal pregnancy (n=34). Affymetrix HG-U133 Plus 2.0 arrays (Affymetrix, Santa Clara, CA, USA) were used for gene expression profiling. A linear model was used to test the association between the presence of pyelonephritis and gene expression levels while controlling for white blood cell count and gestational age. A fold change of 1.5 was considered significant at a false discovery rate of 0.1. A subset of differentially expressed genes (n=56) was tested with real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) (cases, n=19; controls, n=59). Gene ontology and pathway analyses were applied. Results: A total of 983 genes were differentially expressed in acute pyelonephritis: 457 were upregulated and 526 were downregulated. Significant enrichment of 300 biological processes and 63 molecular functions was found in pyelonephritis. Significantly impacted pathways in pyelonephritis included (a) cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction, (b) T-cell receptor signaling, (c) Jak-STAT signaling, and (d) complement and coagulation cascades. Of 56 genes tested by qRT-PCR, 48 (85.7%) had confirmation of differential expression. Conclusion: This is the first study of the transcriptomic signature of whole blood in pregnant women with acute pyelonephritis. Acute infection during pregnancy is associated with the increased expression of genes involved in innate immunity and the decreased expression of genes involved in lymphocyte function.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-53
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of Perinatal Medicine
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


    • Adaptive immunity
    • High-dimensional biology
    • Infection during pregnancy
    • Innate immunity
    • PAX gene
    • Urinary tract infection
    • mRNA

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
    • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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