Prenatal exposures and DNA methylation in newborns: A pilot study in Durban, South Africa
Goodrich, Jaclyn M.
Naidoo, Rajen N.
Dolinoy, Dana C.
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The in utero environment has the potential to influence epigenetic programming and subsequently the health of offspring. Even though pregnant women living in urban Africa are exposed to multiple chemicals and infectious agents that may impact their developing children, the neonatal epigenome has not been studied in these regions. We assessed whether prenatal exposures to air pollution and maternal human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are associated with changes to DNA methylation throughout the epigenome using a pilot sample from the Mother and Child Environmental (MACE) birth cohort, of which 36% of the mothers are HIV positive. Families living in a high air pollution region (south Durban, n = 11) and a low air pollution region (north Durban, n = 11) with comparable socioeconomic characteristics were selected for analysis. DNA methylation was quantified in cord blood plasma DNA at >430 000 CpG sites using the Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip. Sites associated with living in south Durban or maternal HIV infection (p < 0.001) were more likely to be hypomethylated and located in CpG islands. Top differentially methylated sites by region of Durban were enriched in pathways related to xenobiotic metabolism, oxygen and gas transport, and sensory perception of chemical stimuli when performing gene set enrichment testing with LRpath. Differentially methylated sites by maternal HIV status were enriched in cytochrome P450s, pathways involved in detection of chemical stimuli, metabolic processes, and viral regulation and processing. Given the small sample size of the study, future work examining the impact of prenatal exposures to air pollution, maternal infection, and antiviral treatment on the epigenome and downstream health implications is merited in Sub-Saharan African populations.
Goodrich, J. M. et al. 2016. Prenatal exposures and DNA methylation in newborns: A pilot study in Durban, South Africa. Environmental Science : Processes and Impacts. 1-33.