Assisted reproductive technologies do not enhance the variability of DNA methylation imprints in human

Sascha Tierling, Nicole Y Souren, Jasmin Gries, Christina Loporto, Marco Groth, Pavlo Lutsik, Heidemarie Neitzel, Isabelle Utz-Billing, Gabriele Gillessen-Kaesbach, Heribert Kentenich, Georg Griesinger, Karl Sperling, Eberhard Schwinger, Jörn Walter
Journal of Medical Genetics 2010, 47 (6): 371-6
BACKGROUND Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) are believed to destabilise genomic imprints. An increased frequency of Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome in children born after ART has been reported. Other, mostly epidemiological, studies argue against this finding. OBJECTIVE To examine the effect of ART on the stability of DNA methylation imprints, DNA was extracted from maternal peripheral blood (MPB), umbilical cord blood (UCB) and amnion/chorion tissue (ACT) of 185 phenotypically normal children (77 ICSI, 35 IVF, and 73 spontaneous conceptions). Using bisulfite based technologies 10 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were analysed, including KvDMR1, H19, SNRPN, MEST, GRB10, DLK1/MEG3 IG-DMR, GNAS NESP55, GNAS NESPas, GNAS XL-alpha-s and GNAS Exon1A. RESULTS Methylation indices (MI) do not reveal any significant differences at nine DMRs among the conception groups in neither MPB, UCB nor in ACT. The only slightly variable DMR was that of MEST. Here the mean MI was higher in UCB and MPB of IVF cases (mean MI+/-SD: 0.41+/-0.03 (UCB) and 0.40+/-0.03 (MPB)) compared to the ICSI (0.38+/-0.03, p=0.003 (UCB); 0.37+/-0.04, p=0.0007 (MPB)) or spontaneous cases (0.38+/-0.03, p=0.003 (UCB); 0.38+/-0.04, p=0.02 (MPB)). Weak but suggestive correlations between DMRs were, however, found between MPB, UCB and ACT. CONCLUSION This study supports the notion that children conceived by ART do not show a higher degree of imprint variability and hence do not have an a priori higher risk for imprinting disorders.

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