Epigenetic alterations associated with early prenatal dexamethasone treatment

Leif Karlsson, Michela Barbaro, Ewoud Ewing, David Gomez-Cabrero, Svetlana Lajic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Prenatal treatment with dexamethasone (DEX) reduces virilization in girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). It has potential short- and long-term risks and has been shown to affect cognitive functions. Here,we investigate whether epigeneticmodification ofDNAduring early developmental stages may be a keymediatingmechanismby which prenatal DEX treatment could result in poor outcomes in the offspring. We analyzed genome-wide CD4+ T cell DNA methylation, assessed using the Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip array in 29 individuals (mean age = 16.4 ± 5.9 years) at risk for CAH and treated with DEX during the first trimester and 37 population controls (mean age = 17.0 years, SD = 6.1 years).Weidentified 9672 differentiallymethylated probes (DMPs) associated withDEX treatment and 7393 DMPs associated with a DEX × sex interaction. DMPs were enriched in intergenic regions located near epigenetic markers for active enhancers. Functional enrichment of DMPs wasmostly associated with immune functioning and inflammation but alsowith nonimmune-related functions.DEX-associated DMPs enriched near single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with inflammatory bowel disease, and DEX × sex-associated DMPs enriched near SNPs associated with asthma. DMPs in genes involved in the regulation andmaintenance ofmethylation and steroidogenesis were identified aswell.Methylation in the BDNF, FKBP5, and NR3C1 genes were associated with the performance on several Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition subscales. In conclusion, this study indicates that DNA methylation is altered after prenatal DEX treatment. This finding may have implications for the future health of the exposed individual.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-263
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Endocrine Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

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Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2021-02-16


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