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DNA methylation links prenatal smoking exposure to later life health outcomes in offspring

By Petri Wiklund, Ville Karhunen, Rebecca Richmond, Alina Rodriguez, Maneka De Silva, Matthias Wielscher, Faisal I Rezwan, Tom G Richardson, Juha Veijola, Karl Heinz-Herzig, John W Holloway, Caroline L Relton, Sylvain Sebert, Marjo-Riitta Järvelin

Posted 04 Oct 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/428896 (published DOI: 10.1186/s13148-019-0683-4)

Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with adverse offspring health outcomes across their life course. We hypothesize that DNA methylation is a potential mediator of this relationship. To test this, we examined the association of prenatal maternal smoking with DNA methylation in 2,821 individuals (age 16 to 48 years) from five prospective birth cohort studies and perform Mendelian randomization and mediation analyses to assess, whether methylation markers have causal effects on disease outcomes in the offspring. We identify 69 differentially methylated CpGs in 36 genomic regions (P < 10-7), and show that DNA methylation may represent a biological mechanism through which maternal smoking is associated with increased risk of psychiatric morbidity in the exposed offspring.

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