Newborns of obese parents have altered DNA methylation patterns at imprinted genes.
BACKGROUND: Several epidemiologic studies have demonstrated associations between periconceptional environmental exposures and health status of the offspring in later life. Although these environmentally related effects have been attributed to epigenetic changes, such as DNA methylation shifts at imprinted genes, little is known about the potential effects of maternal and paternal preconceptional overnutrition or obesity. OBJECTIVE: We examined parental preconceptional obesity in relation to DNA methylation profiles at multiple human imprinted genes important in normal growth and development, such as: maternally expressed gene 3 (MEG3), mesoderm-specific transcript (MEST), paternally expressed gene 3 (PEG3), pleiomorphic adenoma gene-like 1 (PLAGL1), epsilon sarcoglycan and paternally expressed gene 10 (SGCE/PEG10) and neuronatin (NNAT). METHODS: We measured methylation percentages at the differentially methylated regions (DMRs) by bisulfite pyrosequencing in DNA extracted from umbilical cord blood leukocytes of 92 newborns. Preconceptional obesity, defined as BMI ⩾30 kg m(-2), was ascertained through standardized questionnaires. RESULTS: After adjusting for potential confounders and cluster effects, paternal obesity was significantly associated with lower methylation levels at the MEST (β=-2.57; s.e.=0.95; P=0.008), PEG3 (β=-1.71; s.e.=0.61; P=0.005) and NNAT (β=-3.59; s.e.=1.76; P=0.04) DMRs. Changes related to maternal obesity detected at other loci were as follows: β-coefficient was +2.58 (s.e.=1.00; P=0.01) at the PLAGL1 DMR and -3.42 (s.e.=1.69; P=0.04) at the MEG3 DMR. CONCLUSION: We found altered methylation outcomes at multiple imprint regulatory regions in children born to obese parents, compared with children born to non-obese parents. In spite of the small sample size, our data suggest a preconceptional influence of parental life-style or overnutrition on the (re)programming of imprint marks during gametogenesis and early development. More specifically, the significant and independent association between paternal obesity and the offspring's methylation status suggests the susceptibility of the developing sperm for environmental insults. The acquired imprint instability may be carried onto the next generation and increase the risk for chronic diseases in adulthood.
Soubry, A; Murphy, SK; Wang, F; Huang, Z; Vidal, AC; Fuemmeler, BF; Kurtzberg, J; Murtha, A; Jirtle, RL; Schildkraut, JM; Hoyo, C
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