Objective: Exposure to stress during pregnancy may program susceptibility to the development of obesity in offspring. Our goal was to determine whether prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) due to a natural disaster was associated with child obesity, and to compare the DNA methylation profiles in obese versus non-obese children at age 13½ years. Women and their children were involved in the longitudinal natural disaster study-Project Ice Strom, which served as a human model to study PNMS. Blood was collected from 31 children (including five obese children). Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip Array was performed for genome-wide DNA methylation analyses.
Results: Results demonstrated a well-defined obesity-associated genome-wide DNA methylation pattern. There were 277 CpGs, corresponding to 143 genes, were differentially-methylated. IPA analyses revealed 51 canonical pathways, and enrichment of pathways was involved in immune function. Although no significant association was found between PNMS and child obesity, the preliminary data in the study revealed obesity-associated methylation patterns on a genome-wide level in children.
Keywords: Genome-wide DNA methylation; Immune function; Obesity; Prenatal maternal stress; Project Ice Storm.