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Clin Epigenetics. 2019 Nov 28;11(1):169. doi: 10.1186/s13148-019-0769-z.

DNA methylation associated with postpartum depressive symptoms overlaps findings from a genome-wide association meta-analysis of depression.

Author information

1
Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA. lapatodm@vcu.edu.
2
Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA. lapatodm@vcu.edu.
3
Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.
4
Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.
5
Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.
6
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.
7
School of Nursing, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Perinatal depressive symptoms have been linked to adverse maternal and infant health outcomes. The etiology associated with perinatal depressive psychopathology is poorly understood, but accumulating evidence suggests that understanding inter-individual differences in DNA methylation (DNAm) patterning may provide insight regarding the genomic regions salient to the risk liability of perinatal depressive psychopathology.

RESULTS:

Genome-wide DNAm was measured in maternal peripheral blood using the Infinium MethylationEPIC microarray. Ninety-two participants (46% African-American) had DNAm samples that passed all quality control metrics, and all participants were within 7 months of delivery. Linear models were constructed to identify differentially methylated sites and regions, and permutation testing was utilized to assess significance. Differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were defined as genomic regions of consistent DNAm change with at least two probes within 1 kb of each other. Maternal age, current smoking status, estimated cell-type proportions, ancestry-relevant principal components, days since delivery, and chip position served as covariates to adjust for technical and biological factors. Current postpartum depressive symptoms were measured using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Ninety-eight DMRs were significant (false discovery rate < 5%) and overlapped 92 genes. Three of the regions overlap loci from the latest Psychiatric Genomics Consortium meta-analysis of depression.

CONCLUSIONS:

Many of the genes identified in this analysis corroborate previous allelic, transcriptomic, and DNAm association results related to depressive phenotypes. Future work should integrate data from multi-omic platforms to understand the functional relevance of these DMRs and refine DNAm association results by limiting phenotypic heterogeneity and clarifying if DNAm differences relate to the timing of onset, severity, duration of perinatal mental health outcomes of the current pregnancy or to previous history of depressive psychopathology.

KEYWORDS:

DNA methylation; Differentially methylated regions; Epigenome-wide association study; Major depression; Perinatal depressive psychopathology

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