Alterations in the placental methylome with maternal obesity and evidence for metabolic regulation

Kohzoh Mitsuya, Ashley N. Parker, Lu Liu, Jianhua Ruan, Margreet C.M. Vissers, Leslie Myatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The inflammatory and metabolic derangements of obesity in pregnant women generate an adverse intrauterine environment, increase pregnancy complications and adverse fetal outcomes and program the fetus for obesity and metabolic syndrome in later life. We hypothesized that epigenetic modifications in placenta including altered DNA methylation/ hydroxymethylation may mediate these effects. Term placental villous tissue was collected following cesarean section from lean (prepregnancy BMI<25) or obese (BMI>30) women. Genomic DNA was isolated, methylated and hydroxymethylated DNA immunoprecipitated and hybridized to the NimbleGen 2.1M human DNA methylation array. Intermediate metabolites in placental tissues were measured by HPLC-ESI-MS, ascorbate levels by reverse phase HPLC and gene expression by RT-PCR. Differentially methylated and hydroxymethylated regions occurred across the genome, with a 21% increase in methylated but a 31% decrease in hydroxymethylated regions in obese vs lean groups. Whereas increased methylation and decreased methylation was evident around transcription start sites of multiple genes in the GH/CSH and PSG gene clusters on chromosomes 17 and 19 in other areas there was no relationship. Increased methylation was associated with decreased expression only for some genes in these clusters. Biological pathway analysis revealed the 262 genes which showed reciprocal differential methylation/ hydroxymethylation were enriched for pregnancy, immune response and cell adhesion-linked processes. We found a negative relationship for maternal BMI but a positive relationship for ascorbate with α-ketoglutarate a metabolite that regulates ten eleven translocase (TET) which mediates DNA methylation. We provide evidence for the obese maternal metabolic milieu being linked to an altered DNA methylome that may affect placental gene expression in relation to adverse outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0186115
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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