Socioeconomic position during pregnancy and DNA methylation signatures at three stages across the early life: Epigenome-wide association studies in the ALSPAC birth cohort

Rossella Alfano, Florence Guida, Bruna Galobardes, Marc Chadeau-Hyam, Cyrille Delpierre, Akram Ghantous, John Henderson, Zdenko Herceg, Pooja Jain, Tim S. Nawrot, Caroline Relton, Paolo Vineis, Raphaële Castagne, Michelle Plusquin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

6 Citations (Scopus)
132 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Socioeconomic experiences are recognized determinants of health, and recent work has shown that social disadvantages in early life may induce sustained biological changes at molecular level that are detectable later in life. However, the dynamics and persistence of biological embedding of socioeconomic position (SEP) remains vastly unexplored.  
METHODS: Using the data from the ALSPAC birth cohort, we performed epigenome-wide association studies of DNA methylation changes at three life stages (birth, n=914; childhood at mean age 7.5, n =973; and adolescence at mean age 15.5, n=974), measured using the Illumina HumanMethylation450 Beadchip, in relation to pregnancy SEP indicators (maternal and paternal education and occupation).  
RESULTS: Across the four early life SEP metrics investigated, only maternal education was associated with methylation levels at birth, and four CpGs mapped to SULF1, GLB1L2 and RPUSD1 genes were identified (FDR-corrected p-value < 0.05). No epigenetic signature was found associated with maternal education in children samples, while methylation levels at 20 CpG loci were found significantly associated with maternal education in adolescence. Although no overlap was found between the differentially methylated CpG sites at different ages, we identified two CpG sites at birth and during adolescence that are 219 bp apart in the SULF1 gene that encodes an heparan sulfatase involved in modulation of signalling pathways. Using data from an independent birth cohort, the ENVIRONAGE-cohort, we were not able to replicate these findings.   
CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, our results suggest that parental SEP, and particularly maternal education may influence the offspring’s methylome at birth and adolescence.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberdyy259
Pages (from-to)30-44
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Volume48
Issue number1
Early online date22 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

Keywords

  • DNA methylation
  • Education
  • Occupations
  • Social class

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    Alfano, R., Guida, F., Galobardes, B., Chadeau-Hyam, M., Delpierre, C., Ghantous, A., Henderson, J., Herceg, Z., Jain, P., Nawrot, T. S., Relton, C., Vineis, P., Castagne, R., & Plusquin, M. (2019). Socioeconomic position during pregnancy and DNA methylation signatures at three stages across the early life: Epigenome-wide association studies in the ALSPAC birth cohort. International Journal of Epidemiology, 48(1), 30-44. [dyy259]. https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyy259