Disciplines

Biological Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Health Psychology

Abstract

In utero epigenetic factors affect health and development, though sex differences in epigenetic effects of prenatal maternal health may exist for placental hormones. Specifically, maternal prenatal obesity affects expression of placental leptin hormone genes, which play a unique role in metabolism and appetite. However, the effects of such expression on infant neurobehavioral development differ by offspring sex.

Therefore, we examined sex differences in the effects of maternal gestational weight on placental leptin gene methylation. Data (n=155) were taken from the Behavior and Mood in Mothers and Behavior in Infants Study. Maternal pre-pregnancy weight was self-reported, while delivery weight and infant sex were obtained by medical chart review. Placental leptin promoter methylation was assessed by bisulfite pyrosequencing, leading to percent DNA methylation at 12 CpG loci.

For female infants, there were positive associations between maternal gestational weight gain and CpG loci 5 percent methylation, but not for male infants. Findings aid in understanding epigenetic mechanisms accounting for sex differences in the effects of maternal health on offspring development.

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Sex Differences in Placental Epigenetic Regulation of Leptin Hormone are Associated with Elevated Maternal Gestational Weight Gain

In utero epigenetic factors affect health and development, though sex differences in epigenetic effects of prenatal maternal health may exist for placental hormones. Specifically, maternal prenatal obesity affects expression of placental leptin hormone genes, which play a unique role in metabolism and appetite. However, the effects of such expression on infant neurobehavioral development differ by offspring sex.

Therefore, we examined sex differences in the effects of maternal gestational weight on placental leptin gene methylation. Data (n=155) were taken from the Behavior and Mood in Mothers and Behavior in Infants Study. Maternal pre-pregnancy weight was self-reported, while delivery weight and infant sex were obtained by medical chart review. Placental leptin promoter methylation was assessed by bisulfite pyrosequencing, leading to percent DNA methylation at 12 CpG loci.

For female infants, there were positive associations between maternal gestational weight gain and CpG loci 5 percent methylation, but not for male infants. Findings aid in understanding epigenetic mechanisms accounting for sex differences in the effects of maternal health on offspring development.