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Coding and non-coding RNAs associated to gestational COVID-19 and foetal neurodevelopment

Grant number: 23/16277-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2024
Effective date (End): August 31, 2026
Field of knowledge:Health Sciences - Medicine - Psychiatry
Principal Investigator:Helena Paula Brentani
Grantee:Maria Laura Gabriel Kuniyoshi
Host Institution: Faculdade de Medicina (FM). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


After the COVID-19 pandemics, it is key to understand its long-term consequences, such as the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy on foetal neurodevelopment. Until now, no study has focused on the relationship between gene expression and neurodevelopment in the offspring of people infected by SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy. This project aims at studying molecular pathways in pregnant people who had COVID-19, and study its relationship to neurodivergences in their offspring. The project is divided into three parts. The first part is included in a prospective cohort study with 46 pregnant people who had COVID-19 before delivery (COVID+) and 79 who did not have (COVID-). One month after delivery, we evaluated the infants' neurobehavioural patterns with NNNS. In the 18th month after birth, we will carry on the CREDI and Bayley-III tests. This way, we will compare the neurodevelopment between the COVID+ and COVID- groups. Part 2 will evaluate the umbilical cord blood transcriptome of 30 COVID+ patients and 30 COVID- patients. We have collected the umbilical cord samples at delivery. We will evaluate the microRNA (miRNA) and messenger RNA (mRNA) profiles by next generation sequencing. We will compare the transcript levels between 40 patients from COVID+ group and 40 patients from the COVID- group, and evaluate their association to infant neurodevelopment. Finally, part 3 of the project will analyse previously published data. We will perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of -omics studies on gestational COVID-19. From the meta-analysis, we will identify genes consistently altered in several tissues/organs. Then, we will study these genes' expression in the foetal neural tissue, throughout the intrauterine development. This project will fill a gap in the literature about molecular mechanisms that link maternal viral infection and foetal neurodevelopment.

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