There is emerging evidence on DNA methylation (DNAm) variability over time; however, little is known about dynamics of DNAm patterns during pregnancy. We performed an epigenome-wide longitudinal DNAm study of a well-characterized sample of young women from the Swedish Born into Life study, with repeated blood sampling before, during and after pregnancy (n = 21), using the Illumina Infinium MethylationEPIC array. We conducted a replication in the Isle of Wight third-generation birth cohort (n = 27), using the Infinium HumanMethylation450k BeadChip. We identified 196 CpG sites displaying intra-individual longitudinal change in DNAm with a false discovery rate (FDR) P < .05. Most of these (91%) showed a decrease in average methylation levels over the studied period. We observed several genes represented by ⩾3 differentially methylated CpGs: HOXB3, AVP, LOC100996291, and MicroRNA 10a. Of 36 CpGs available in the replication cohort, 17 were replicated, all but 2 with the same direction of association (replication P < .05). Biological pathway analysis demonstrated that FDR-significant CpGs belong to genes overrepresented in metabolism-related pathways, such as adipose tissue development, regulation of insulin receptor signaling, and mammary gland fat development. These results contribute to a better understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying important physiological alterations and adaptations for pregnancy and lactation.
Keywords: Cohort; DNA methylation; Illumina EPIC and Infinium chip; pregnancy.