DNA Methylation of Regulatory Regions of Imprinted Genes at Birth and Its Relation to Infant Temperament

Bernard Fuemmeler F., Virginia Commonwealth University
Chien-Ti Lee, Brigham Young University
Adelheid Soubry, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Edwin S. Iversen, Duke University
Zhiqing Huang, Duke University Medical Center, Durham
Amy P. Murtha, Duke University Medical Center, Durham
Joellen M. Schildkraut, University of Virginia
Randy L. Jirtle, University of Wisconsin–Madison,
Susan K. Murphy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham
Cathrine Hoyo, Duke University Medical Center, Durham

Originally published at dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jacbts.2016.06.012.

Funded in part by the VCU libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.


Background: DNA methylation of the differentially methylated regions (DMRs) of imprinted genes is relevant to neurodevelopment.

Methods: DNA methylation status of the DMRs of nine imprinted genes in umbilical cord blood leukocytes was analyzed in relation to infant behaviors and temperament (n = 158).

Results: MEG3 DMR levels were positively associated with internalizing (β = 0.15, P = 0.044) and surgency (β = 0.19, P = 0.018) behaviors, after adjusting for birth weight, gender, gestational age at birth, maternal age at delivery, race/ethnicity, education level, smoking status, parity, and a history of anxiety or depression. Higher methylation levels at the intergenic MEG3-IG methylation regions were associated with surgency (β = 0.28, P = 0.0003) and PEG3 was positively related to externalizing (β = 0.20, P = 0.01) and negative affectivity (β = 0.18, P = 0.02).

Conclusion: While the small sample size limits inference, these pilot data support gene-specific associations between epigenetic differences in regulatory regions of imprinted domains at birth and later infant temperament.