Effect of prenatal exposure to phthalates on epigenome-wide DNA methylations in cord blood and implications for fetal growth: The Hokkaido Study on Environment and Children's Health

Ryu Miura, Atsuko Ikeda-Araki, Toru Ishihara, Kunio Miyake, Chihiro Miyashita, Tamie Nakajima, Sumitaka Kobayashi, Mayumi Ishizuka, Takeo Kubota, Reiko Kishi
Science of the Total Environment 2021 April 16, 783: 147035
Prenatal exposure to phthalates negatively affects the offspring's health. In particular, epigenetic alterations, such as DNA methylation, may connect phthalate exposure with health outcomes. Here, we evaluated the association of di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) exposure in utero with cord blood epigenome-wide DNA methylation in 203 mother-child pairs enrolled in the Hokkaido Study on Environment and Children's Health, using the Illumina HumanMethylation450 BeadChip. Epigenome-wide association analysis demonstrated the predominant positive associations between the levels of the primary metabolite of DEHP, mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), in maternal blood and DNA methylation levels in cord blood. The genes annotated to the CpGs positively associated with MEHP levels were enriched for pathways related to metabolism, the endocrine system, and signal transduction. Among them, methylation levels of CpGs involved in metabolism were inversely associated with the offspring's ponderal index (PI). Further, clustering and mediation analyses suggested that multiple increased methylation changes may jointly mediate the association of DEHP exposure in utero with the offspring's PI at birth. Although further studies are required to assess the impact of these changes, this study suggests that differential DNA methylation may link phthalate exposure in utero to fetal growth and further imply that DNA methylation has predictive value for the offspring's obesity.

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