Supplementary Material for: Assessment of Placental Cortisol Pathway Gene Expression in Term Pregnant Women with Anxiety

Introduction: The aim of this study was to expand on this field of work by examining, within a cohort of pregnant women with diagnosed clinical anxiety, the mRNA expression of a panel of genes associated with the cortisol pathway and comparing them to controls. Methods: Placental samples were obtained from 24 pregnant women, 12 with a diagnosed anxiety disorder and 12 with no psychiatric history, within 30 min of delivery. Differential expression analysis of 85 genes known to be involved in glucocorticoid synthesis, metabolism or signalling was conducted for the: (1) full sample, (2) those at term without labour (5 cases, 7 controls) and (3) those at term with labour (7 cases, 5 controls). Correlation analyses between gene expression and measures of anxiety and depressive symptom severity were also conducted. Results: No robust difference in placental gene expression between pregnant women with and without anxiety disorder was found nor did we detect robust differences by labour status. However, correlational analyses putatively showed a decrease in PER1 expression was associated with an increase in anxiety symptom severity, explaining up to 32% of the variance in anxiety symptom severity. Discussion: Overall, the strongest correlation was found between a decrease in placental PER1 expression and increased anxiety scores. Labour status was found to have a profound effect on mRNA expression. The placental samples obtained from women following labour produced greater numbers of significant differences in mRNA species expression suggesting that in long-standing anxiety the placenta may respond differently under conditions of chronic stress.