Maternal nutrition around the time of conception can affect the regulatory tagging of her child’s DNA from the earliest embryonic stages, according to a scientific report which focused on a population of women and children in Gambia.
In experimental animals, maternal diet during the periconceptional period influences the establishment of DNA methylation at metastable epialleles in the offspring, with permanent phenotypic consequences. Pronounced naturally occurring seasonal differences in the diet of rural Gambian women allowed us to test this in humans. We show that significant seasonal variations in methyl-donor nutrient intake of mothers around the time of conception influence 13 relevant plasma biomarkers. The level of several of these maternal biomarkers predicts increased/decreased methylation at metastable epialleles in DNA extracted from lymphocytes and hair follicles in infants postnatally. Our results demonstrate that maternal nutritional status during early pregnancy causes persistent and systemic epigenetic changes at human metastable epialleles.
- Epigenetic Effects of Mom’s Diet,
The Scientist, articleNo/39841, 29 April 2014
- Maternal nutrition at conception modulates DNA methylation of human metastable epialleles, Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/ncomms4746, 29 April 2014
- Supplementary Figures 1-4 and Supplementary Tables 1-4, Nature Communications, PDF files