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Epigenetics. 2018;13(3):301-309. doi: 10.1080/15592294.2018.1448680. Epub 2018 Apr 18.

Maternal levels of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the first trimester of pregnancy are associated with infant cord blood DNA methylation.

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a Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health , University of Michigan , Ann Arbor , MI , USA.
b Department of Pediatrics , University of Michigan , Ann Arbor , MI , USA.
c Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology , University of Michigan , Ann Arbor , MI , USA.
d Department of Nutritional Sciences , University of Michigan , Ann Arbor , MI , USA.


Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) pose a public health risk through disruption of normal biological processes. Identifying toxicoepigenetic mechanisms of developmental exposure-induced effects for EDCs, such as phthalates or bisphenol A (BPA), is essential. Here, we investigate whether maternal exposure to EDCs is predictive of infant DNA methylation at candidate gene regions. In the Michigan Mother-Infant Pairs (MMIP) cohort, DNA was extracted from cord blood leukocytes for methylation analysis by pyrosequencing (n = 116) and methylation changes related to first trimester levels of 9 phthalate metabolites and BPA. Growth and metabolism-related genes selected for methylation analysis included imprinted (IGF2, H19) and non-imprinted (PPARA, ESR1) genes along with LINE-1 repetitive elements. Findings revealed decreases in methylation of LINE-1, IGF2, and PPARA with increasing phthalate concentrations. For example, a log unit increase in ΣDEHP corresponded to a 1.03 [95% confidence interval (CI): -1.83, -0.22] percentage point decrease in PPARA methylation. Changes in DNA methylation were also inversely correlated with PPARA gene expression determined by RT-qPCR (r = -0.34, P = 0.02), thereby providing evidence in support of functional relevance. A sex-stratified analysis of EDCs and DNA methylation showed that some relationships were female-specific. For example, urinary BPA exposure was associated with a 1.35 (95%CI: -2.69, -0.01) percentage point decrease in IGF2 methylation and a 1.22 (95%CI: -2.27, -0.16) percentage point decrease in PPARA methylation in females only. These findings add to a body of evidence suggesting epigenetically labile regions may provide a conduit linking early exposures with disease risk later in life and that toxicoepigenetic susceptibility may be sex specific.


BPA; DNA methylation; DOHaD; Toxicoepigenetics; metabolism; phthalate

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