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Assessment of global DNA methylation in the first trimester fetal tissues exposed to maternal cigarette smoking

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AIMS: Maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of negative health consequences for the exposed child. Epigenetic mechanisms constitute a likely link between the prenatal exposure to maternal cigarette smoking and the increased risk in later life for diverse pathologies. Maternal smoking induces gene-specific DNA methylation alterations as well as global DNA hypermethylation in the term placentas and hypomethylation in the cord blood. Early pregnancy represents a developmental time where the fetal epigenome is remodeled and accordingly can be expected to be highly prone to exposures with an epigenetic impact. We have assessed the influence of maternal cigarette smoking during the first trimester for fetal global DNA methylation.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We analyzed the human fetal intestines and livers as well as the placentas from the first trimester pregnancies. Global DNA methylation levels were quantified with ELISA using a methylcytosine antibody as well as with the bisulfite pyrosequencing of surrogate markers for global methylation status, LINE-1, and AluYb8. We identified gender-specific differences in global DNA methylation levels, but no significant DNA methylation changes in exposure responses to the first trimester maternal cigarette smoking.

CONCLUSIONS: Acknowledging that only examining subsets of global DNA methylation markers and fetal sample availability represents possible limitations for the analyses, our presented results indicate that the first trimester maternal cigarette smoking is not manifested in immediate aberrations of fetal global DNA methylation.

TidsskriftClinical Epigenetics
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 2016

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