Aim: To quantify associations of anxiety and depression during pregnancy with differential cord blood DNA methylation of the glucorticoid receptor (NR3C1). Materials & methods: Pregnancy anxiety, trait anxiety and depressive symptoms were collected using the Pregnancy Related Anxiety Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Index and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, respectively. NR3C1 methylation was determined at four methylation sites. Results: DNA methylation of CpG1 in the NR3C1 CpG island shore was higher in infants born to women with high pregnancy anxiety (β 2.54, 95% CI: 0.49-4.58) and trait anxiety (β 1.68, 95% CI: 0.14-3.22). No significant association was found between depressive symptoms and NR3C1 methylation. Conclusion: We found that maternal anxiety was associated with increased NR3C1 CpG island shore methylation.
Keywords: DNA methylation; NR3C1; cord blood; developmental epigenetics; epigenetics; glucocorticoid receptor; maternal anxiety; maternal depression; pregnancy.