Introduction: Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), a condition characterised by intermittent hypoxia and reoxygenation during sleep, is associated with an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes including gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. The biological mechanisms of these associations are poorly understood. The impact of OSA on placental function has not been well characterised. Methods: We performed 3’ mRNA sequencing on placenta from women with obesity and OSA (n = 11) and women with obesity and no OSA (n = 9). Results: After correcting for multiple testing, there were no statistically significant differences in gene expression between OSA and no OSA groups (adjusted p < 0.05). In unadjusted analyses, 101 genes were differentially expressed in OSA compared to no OSA placentae (p < 0.01). In Reactome pathway and GO term analysis, this included downregulation of genes involved in O-linked glycosylation (B3GNT5 and B3GNT8) and Wnt signalling (TRABD2B and FRZB) pathways. In gene set enrichment analysis, genes within 24 pathways had a non-random distribution in OSA compared to no OSA placentae (adjusted p < 0.05). This included an increase in genes relating to the reversible hydration of carbon dioxide in OSA placentae, a potential novel mechanism contributing to the development of adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with OSA. Discussion: There is overall similarity in the placental transcriptome of women with obesity who do and do not have OSA during pregnancy. Alterations in the reversible hydration of carbon dioxide are a potential mechanism contributing to the development of adverse pregnancy outcomes in maternal OSA, however this finding requires validation in larger cohorts.
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