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Prenatal Stress, Fearfulness, and the Epigenome: Exploratory Analysis of Sex Differences in DNA Methylation of the Glucocorticoid Receptor Gene.

Ostlund BD, Conradt E, Crowell SE, Tyrka AR, Marsit CJ, Lester BM - Front Behav Neurosci (2016)

Bottom Line: We examined whether DNA methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene, NR3C1, was associated with experiences of stress by an expectant mother and fearfulness in her infant.In addition, increased methylation was significantly associated with greater fearfulness for females.Results suggest an experience-dependent pathway to fearfulness for female infants via epigenetic modification of the glucocorticoid receptor gene.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

ABSTRACT
Exposure to stress in utero is a risk factor for the development of problem behavior in the offspring, though precise pathways are unknown. We examined whether DNA methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene, NR3C1, was associated with experiences of stress by an expectant mother and fearfulness in her infant. Mothers reported on prenatal stress and infant temperament when infants were 5 months old (n = 68). Buccal cells for methylation analysis were collected from each infant. Prenatal stress was not related to infant fearfulness or NR3C1 methylation in the sample as a whole. Exploratory sex-specific analysis revealed a trend-level association between prenatal stress and increased methylation of NR3C1 exon 1F for female, but not male, infants. In addition, increased methylation was significantly associated with greater fearfulness for females. Results suggest an experience-dependent pathway to fearfulness for female infants via epigenetic modification of the glucocorticoid receptor gene. Future studies should examine prenatal stress in a comprehensive fashion while considering sex differences in epigenetic processes underlying infant temperament.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Interaction between infant sex and maternal significant life events (SLE) during pregnancy on fearful temperament at 5 months of age. The interaction did not reach significance (p = 0.42).
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Figure 1: Interaction between infant sex and maternal significant life events (SLE) during pregnancy on fearful temperament at 5 months of age. The interaction did not reach significance (p = 0.42).

Mentions: First, we examined whether a mother’s experience of a significant life event during her pregnancy was associated with fearfulness in her infant. There was no main effect for prenatal exposure to a stressful life event (F(1,86) = 0.35, p = 0.59) or infant sex (F(1,86) = 1.59, p = 0.25) on infant fearfulness. Moreover, the interaction between these variables was not significant, F(1,86) = 0.79, p = 0.42 (Figure 1).


Prenatal Stress, Fearfulness, and the Epigenome: Exploratory Analysis of Sex Differences in DNA Methylation of the Glucocorticoid Receptor Gene.

Ostlund BD, Conradt E, Crowell SE, Tyrka AR, Marsit CJ, Lester BM - Front Behav Neurosci (2016)

Interaction between infant sex and maternal significant life events (SLE) during pregnancy on fearful temperament at 5 months of age. The interaction did not reach significance (p = 0.42).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4940423&req=5

Figure 1: Interaction between infant sex and maternal significant life events (SLE) during pregnancy on fearful temperament at 5 months of age. The interaction did not reach significance (p = 0.42).
Mentions: First, we examined whether a mother’s experience of a significant life event during her pregnancy was associated with fearfulness in her infant. There was no main effect for prenatal exposure to a stressful life event (F(1,86) = 0.35, p = 0.59) or infant sex (F(1,86) = 1.59, p = 0.25) on infant fearfulness. Moreover, the interaction between these variables was not significant, F(1,86) = 0.79, p = 0.42 (Figure 1).

Bottom Line: We examined whether DNA methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene, NR3C1, was associated with experiences of stress by an expectant mother and fearfulness in her infant.In addition, increased methylation was significantly associated with greater fearfulness for females.Results suggest an experience-dependent pathway to fearfulness for female infants via epigenetic modification of the glucocorticoid receptor gene.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

ABSTRACT
Exposure to stress in utero is a risk factor for the development of problem behavior in the offspring, though precise pathways are unknown. We examined whether DNA methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene, NR3C1, was associated with experiences of stress by an expectant mother and fearfulness in her infant. Mothers reported on prenatal stress and infant temperament when infants were 5 months old (n = 68). Buccal cells for methylation analysis were collected from each infant. Prenatal stress was not related to infant fearfulness or NR3C1 methylation in the sample as a whole. Exploratory sex-specific analysis revealed a trend-level association between prenatal stress and increased methylation of NR3C1 exon 1F for female, but not male, infants. In addition, increased methylation was significantly associated with greater fearfulness for females. Results suggest an experience-dependent pathway to fearfulness for female infants via epigenetic modification of the glucocorticoid receptor gene. Future studies should examine prenatal stress in a comprehensive fashion while considering sex differences in epigenetic processes underlying infant temperament.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus