Associations between placental CpG methylation of metastable epialleles and childhood BMI across ages one, two and ten in the Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborns (ELGAN) cohort

Jeliyah Clark, Elizabeth Martin, Catherine M Bulka, Lisa Smeester, Hudson P Santos, T Michael O’Shea, Rebecca C Fry

Epigenetics. 2019 Nov;14(11):1102-1111.

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The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease hypothesis posits in utero and early life conditions can disrupt normal fetal development & program susceptibility to later-life disease. Metastable epialleles are genomic loci in which CpG methylation patterning is responsive to maternal diet and conserved across time and tissues, and could serve as ‘signatures’ of gestational environment conditions. We determine if methylation of metastable epialleles was associated with changes in childhood BMI z-scores at one, two and ten years in the ELGAN cohort. 26/250 probes associated (p < 0.05) with changes in BMI z-score, including Mesoderm Specific Transcript (MEST) and Histone Deacetylase 4 (HDAC4), which have been associated with childhood obesity and adipogenesis. Significant association found within female placentas for imprinted gene PLAG1 Like Zinc Finger 1 (PLAGL1). Epigenetic marks may be involved in programming susceptibility to obesity in utero and placental tissues may predict growth among premature infants.