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      Epigenetic signatures of gestational diabetes mellitus on cord blood methylation

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          Intrauterine exposure to gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) confers a lifelong increased risk for metabolic and other complex disorders to the offspring. GDM-induced epigenetic modifications modulating gene regulation and persisting into later life are generally assumed to mediate these elevated disease susceptibilities. To identify candidate genes for fetal programming, we compared genome-wide methylation patterns of fetal cord bloods (FCBs) from GDM and control pregnancies.

          Methods and results

          Using Illumina’s 450K methylation arrays and following correction for multiple testing, 65 CpG sites (52 associated with genes) displayed significant methylation differences between GDM and control samples. Four candidate genes, ATP5A1, MFAP4, PRKCH, and SLC17A4, from our methylation screen and one, HIF3A, from the literature were validated by bisulfite pyrosequencing. The effects remained significant after adjustment for the confounding factors maternal BMI, gestational week, and fetal sex in a multivariate regression model. In general, GDM effects on FCB methylation were more pronounced in women with insulin-dependent GDM who had a more severe metabolic phenotype than women with dietetically treated GDM.


          Our study supports an association between maternal GDM and the epigenetic status of the exposed offspring. Consistent with a multifactorial disease model, the observed FCB methylation changes are of small effect size but affect multiple genes/loci. The identified genes are primary candidates for transmitting GDM effects to the next generation. They also may provide useful biomarkers for the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of adverse prenatal exposures.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13148-017-0329-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 40

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          Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia (syndrome X): relation to reduced fetal growth

          Two follow-up studies were carried out to determine whether lower birthweight is related to the occurrence of syndrome X-Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia. The first study included 407 men born in Hertfordshire, England between 1920 and 1930 whose weights at birth and at 1 year of age had been recorded by health visitors. The second study included 266 men and women born in Preston, UK, between 1935 and 1943 whose size at birth had been measured in detail. The prevalence of syndrome X fell progressively in both men and women, from those who had the lowest to those who had the highest birthweights. Of 64-year-old men whose birthweights were 2.95 kg (6.5 pounds) or less, 22% had syndrome X. Their risk of developing syndrome X was more than 10 times greater than that of men whose birthweights were more than 4.31 kg (9.5 pounds). The association between syndrome X and low birthweight was independent of duration of gestation and of possible confounding variables including cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and social class currently or at birth. In addition to low birthweight, subjects with syndrome X had small head circumference and low ponderal index at birth, and low weight and below-average dental eruption at 1 year of age. It is concluded that Type 2 diabetes and hypertension have a common origin in sub-optimal development in utero, and that syndrome X should perhaps be re-named "the small-baby syndrome".
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            Intrauterine exposure to diabetes conveys risks for type 2 diabetes and obesity: a study of discordant sibships.

            Intrauterine exposure to diabetes is associated with an excess of diabetes and obesity in the offspring, but the effects of intrauterine exposure are confounded by genetic factors. To determine the role of the intrauterine diabetic environment per se, the prevalence of diabetes and the mean BMI were compared in siblings born before and after their mother was recognized as having diabetes. Nuclear families in which at least one sibling was born before and one after the mother was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were selected. Consequently, the siblings born before and after differed in their exposure to diabetes in utero. A total of 58 siblings from 19 families in which at least one sibling had diabetes were examined at similar ages (within 3 years). The risk of diabetes was significantly higher in siblings born after the mother developed diabetes than in those born before the mother's diagnosis of diabetes (odds ratio 3.7, P = 0.02). In 52 families, among 183 siblings without diabetes, the mean BMI was 2.6 kg/m2 higher in offspring of diabetic than in offspring of nondiabetic pregnancies (P = 0.003). In contrast, there were no significant differences in risk of diabetes or BMI between offspring born before and after the father was diagnosed with diabetes. Intrauterine exposure to diabetes per se conveys a high risk for the development of diabetes and obesity in offspring in excess of risk attributable to genetic factors alone.
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              Epigenetic mechanisms that underpin metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.

              Cellular commitment to a specific lineage is controlled by differential silencing of genes, which in turn depends on epigenetic processes such as DNA methylation and histone modification. During early embryogenesis, the mammalian genome is 'wiped clean' of most epigenetic modifications, which are progressively re-established during embryonic development. Thus, the epigenome of each mature cellular lineage carries the record of its developmental history. The subsequent trajectory and pattern of development are also responsive to environmental influences, and such plasticity is likely to have an epigenetic basis. Epigenetic marks may be transmitted across generations, either directly by persisting through meiosis or indirectly through replication in the next generation of the conditions in which the epigenetic change occurred. Developmental plasticity evolved to match an organism to its environment, and a mismatch between the phenotypic outcome of adaptive plasticity and the current environment increases the risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease. These considerations point to epigenetic processes as a key mechanism that underpins the developmental origins of chronic noncommunicable disease. Here, we review the evidence that environmental influences during mammalian development lead to stable changes in the epigenome that alter the individual's susceptibility to chronic metabolic and cardiovascular disease, and discuss the clinical implications.

                Author and article information

                +49 931 3188738 ,
                Clin Epigenetics
                Clin Epigenetics
                Clinical Epigenetics
                BioMed Central (London )
                27 March 2017
                27 March 2017
                : 9
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 1958 8658, GRID grid.8379.5, Institute of Human Genetics, , Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Biozentrum, ; Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 1958 8658, GRID grid.8379.5, Department of Bioinformatics, , Julius Maximilians University, ; 97074 Würzburg, Germany
                [3 ]Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Municipal Clinics, 41239 Moenchengladbach, Germany
                © The Author(s). 2017

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