An epigenetic pathway approach to investigating associations between prenatal exposure to maternal mood disorder and newborn neurobehavior.
Following recent advances in behavioral and psychiatric epigenetics, researchers are increasingly using epigenetic methods to study prenatal exposure to maternal mood disorder and its effects on fetal and newborn neurobehavior. Despite notable progress, various methodological limitations continue to obscure our understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms underpinning prenatal exposure to maternal mood disorder on newborn neurobehavioral development. Here we detail this problem, discussing limitations of the currently dominant analytical approaches (i.e., candidate epigenetic and epigenome-wide association studies), then present a solution that retains many benefits of existing methods while minimizing their shortcomings: epigenetic pathway analysis. We argue that the application of pathway-based epigenetic approaches that target DNA methylation at transcription factor binding sites could substantially deepen our mechanistic understanding of how prenatal exposures influence newborn neurobehavior.
Conradt, E; Adkins, DE; Crowell, SE; Monk, C; Kobor, MS
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