Integrated unbiased multiomics defines disease-independent placental clusters in common obstetrical syndromes.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

BMC medicine [electronic resource]


washington; isb; genomics; Multiomics; Placenta; Pregnancy; Similarity network fusion; Pregnancy; Infant, Newborn; Female; Humans; Placenta; Bayes Theorem; Multiomics; Syndrome; Biopsy; Fetal Growth Retardation; Pre-Eclampsia


BACKGROUND: Placental dysfunction, a root cause of common syndromes affecting human pregnancy, such as preeclampsia (PE), fetal growth restriction (FGR), and spontaneous preterm delivery (sPTD), remains poorly defined. These common, yet clinically disparate obstetrical syndromes share similar placental histopathologic patterns, while individuals within each syndrome present distinct molecular changes, challenging our understanding and hindering our ability to prevent and treat these syndromes.

METHODS: Using our extensive biobank, we identified women with severe PE (n = 75), FGR (n = 40), FGR with a hypertensive disorder (FGR + HDP; n = 33), sPTD (n = 72), and two uncomplicated control groups, term (n = 113), and preterm without PE, FGR, or sPTD (n = 16). We used placental biopsies for transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics data, and histological evaluation. After conventional pairwise comparison, we deployed an unbiased, AI-based similarity network fusion (SNF) to integrate the datatypes and identify omics-defined placental clusters. We used Bayesian model selection to compare the association between the histopathological features and disease conditions vs SNF clusters.

RESULTS: Pairwise, disease-based comparisons exhibited relatively few differences, likely reflecting the heterogeneity of the clinical syndromes. Therefore, we deployed the unbiased, omics-based SNF method. Our analysis resulted in four distinct clusters, which were mostly dominated by a specific syndrome. Notably, the cluster dominated by early-onset PE exhibited strong placental dysfunction patterns, with weaker injury patterns in the cluster dominated by sPTD. The SNF-defined clusters exhibited better correlation with the histopathology than the predefined disease groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate that integrated omics-based SNF distinctively reclassifies placental dysfunction patterns underlying the common obstetrical syndromes, improves our understanding of the pathological processes, and could promote a search for more personalized interventions.

Clinical Institute

Women & Children


Obstetrics & Gynecology




Institute for Systems Biology