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Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death worldwide and is associated with cognitive and physiological challenges in later life. Women undergoing spontaneous preterm labor (sPTL) have significant differences in mRNA expression detectable in whole blood and monocytes, as well as differences in miRNA concentration in blood plasma, extracellular vesicles (EV) and EV-depleted plasma. The goal of this analysis was to identify differences in miRNA expression within whole blood and peripheral monocytes of women undergoing sPTL. We performed single end small RNA sequencing in whole blood and peripheral monocytes from women undergoing sPTL (24-34 weeks of gestation, N=15) matched for gestational age to healthy pregnant non laboring controls (N=30) who delivered at term from the Ontario Birth study. We identified significant differences in expression of 16 miRNAs in peripheral monocytes and 9 miRNAs in whole blood in women undergoing sPTL compared to non-laboring pregnant women who delivered at term. In monocytes, these miRNAs were predicted targets of 541 genes, including 28 which were previously associated with sPTL in the same population. In whole blood, the differentially expressed miRNAs were predicted to target 303 genes, including 9 which were previously associated with sPTL in the same population. These genes were involved in a variety of immune related pathways, including interleukin 2 signaling. This study is the first to identify changes in miRNA expression in whole blood and monocytes of women undergoing sPTL. These miRNAs may play a role in mediating monocyte proliferation and inflammatory response in women during sPTL.
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