OBJECTIVES: The main objective of this study was to determine whether the DNA methylation profile of children born to mothers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is different from that of children born to mothers from the general population. In addition, we aimed to determine whether any differences in methylation are associated with maternal RA disease activity or medication use during pregnancy.
METHODS: For this study, genome-wide DNA methylation was measured at cytosine-phosphate-guanine (CpG) sites, using the Infinium Illumina HumanMethylation 450K BeadChip, in 80 blood samples from children (mean age=6.8 years) born to mothers with RA. As controls, blood samples from 354 children (mean age=6.0 years) from the population-based Generation R Study were used. Linear mixed models were performed to investigate differential methylation between the groups, corrected for relevant confounders.
RESULTS: A total of 147 CpGs were differentially methylated between blood samples of children born to mothers with RA and the control blood samples. The five most significantly associated CpGs were cg06642177, cg08867893, cg06778273, cg07786668 and cg20116574. The differences in methylation were not associated with maternal RA disease activity or medication use during pregnancy.
CONCLUSIONS: DNA methylation at 147 CpGs differed between children born to mothers with RA and children born to mothers from the general population. It remains unknown whether the identified associations are causal, and if so whether they are caused by the disease or treatment. More research, including replication of these results, is necessary in order to strengthen the relevance of our findings for the later-life health of children born to mothers with RA.
- MATERNAL SMOKING
- PRENATAL EXPOSURE
- ZFHX3 GENE