DNA Methylation in Babies Born to Nonsmoking Mothers Exposed to Secondhand Smoke during Pregnancy: An Epigenome-Wide Association Study.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: Maternal smoking during pregnancy is related to altered DNA methylation in infant umbilical cord blood. The extent to which low levels of smoke exposure among nonsmoking pregnant women relates to offspring DNA methylation is unknown. OBJECTIVE: This study sought to evaluate relationships between maternal prenatal plasma cotinine levels and DNA methylation in umbilical cord blood in newborns using the Infinium HumanMethylation 450K BeadChip. METHODS: Participants from the Newborn Epigenetics Study cohort who reported not smoking during pregnancy had verified low levels of cotinine from maternal prenatal plasma (0 ng/mL to <4 ng/mL), and offspring epigenetic data from umbilical cord blood were included in this study (n=79). Multivariable linear regression models were fit to the data, controlling for cell proportions, age, race, education, and parity. Estimates represent changes in response to any 1-ng/mL unit increase in exposure. RESULTS: Multivariable linear regression models yielded 29,049 CpGs that were differentially methylated in relation to increases in cotinine at a 5% false discovery rate. Top CpGs were within or near genes involved in neuronal functioning (PRKG1, DLGAP2, BSG), carcinogenesis (FHIT, HSPC157) and inflammation (AGER). Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analyses suggest cotinine was related to methylation of gene pathways controlling neuronal signaling, metabolic regulation, cell signaling and regulation, and cancer. Further, enhancers associated with transcription start sites were enriched in altered CpGs. Using an independent sample from the same study population (n=115), bisulfite pyrosequencing was performed with infant cord blood DNA for two genes within our top 20 hits (AGER and PRKG1). Results from pyrosequencing replicated epigenome results for PRKG1 (cg17079497, estimate=-1.09, standard error (SE)=0.45, p=0.018) but not for AGER (cg09199225; estimate=-0.16, SE=0.21, p=0.44). DISCUSSION: Secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmoking women may alter DNA methylation in regions involved in development, carcinogenesis, and neuronal functioning. These novel findings suggest that even low levels of smoke exposure during pregnancy may be sufficient to alter DNA methylation in distinct sites of mixed umbilical cord blood leukocytes in pathways that are known to be altered in cord blood from pregnant active smokers. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP8099.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Fuemmeler, BF; Dozmorov, MG; Do, EK; Zhang, JJ; Grenier, C; Huang, Z; Maguire, RL; Kollins, SH; Hoyo, C; Murphy, SK

Published Date

  • May 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 129 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 57010 -

PubMed ID

  • 34009014

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8132610

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1552-9924

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1289/EHP8099


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States