A preliminary investigation of epigenome-wide DNA methylation and temperament during infancy

Dev Psychobiol. 2024 Apr;66(3):e22475. doi: 10.1002/dev.22475.


This study provides preliminary evidence for an epigenetic architecture of infant temperament. At 12 months of age, blood was collected and assayed for DNA methylation and maternally reported infant temperament was assessed using the Infant Behavior Questionnaire in 67 mother-infant dyads. Epigenome-wide analyses showed that the higher order temperament dimensions Surgency and Negative Affect were associated with DNA methylation. The epigenetic signatures of Surgency and Negative Affect were situated at genes involved in synaptic signaling and plasticity. Although replication is required, these results are consistent with a biologically based model of temperament, create new avenues for hypothesis-driven research into epigenetic pathways that underlie individual differences in temperament, and demonstrate that infant temperament has a widespread epigenetic signature in the methylome.

Keywords: DNA methylation; epigenetics; human development; infant; temperament.

MeSH terms

  • DNA Methylation* / genetics
  • Epigenome*
  • Epigenomics
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Infant
  • Temperament