Sexual epigenetic dimorphism in the human placenta: implications for susceptibility during the prenatal period

Elizabeth Martin, Lisa Smeester, Paige A Bommarito, Matthew R Grace, Kim Boggess, Karl Kuban, Margaret R Karagas, Carmen J Marsit, T Michael O’Shea, Rebecca C Fry

Epigenomics. 2017 Mar;9:267-278

Pubmed Link

AIM: Evaluate placental epigenome sex-based differences in the ELGAN cohort

METHODS: Placental DNA methylation was assessed at more than 480,000 CpG sites from male and female infants enrolled in the extremely low gestational age newborns cohort (ELGAN) and validated in a separate US-based cohort.

RESULTS: A total of n = 2745 CpG sites, representing n = 587 genes, were identified as differentially methylated (p < 1 × 10-7). The majority (n = 582 or 99%) of these were conserved among the New Hampshire Birth Cohort. The identified genes encode proteins related to immune function, growth/transcription factor signaling and transport across cell membranes.

CONCLUSION: Sex-dependent epigenetic patterning in placenta provide insight into infant outcome differences and responses to perinatal environment.