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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Genet. | doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.01050

Maternal intake of n-3 PUFAs during pregnancy is associated with differential methylation profiles in cord blood white cells

 Marzia Bianchi1,  Anna Alisi1, Marta Fabrizi1, Cristina Vallone2, Lucilla Rava1,  Pamela Vernocchi1, Fabrizio Signore2 and  Melania Manco1*
  • 1Bambino Gesù Children Hospital (IRCCS), Italy
  • 2Ospedale Misericordia di Grosseto, Italy

A healthy diet during pregnancy is pivotal for the offspring health at birth and later in life. N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) are not endogenously produced in humans and are exclusively derived from the diet. They are pivotal for the fetus growth and neuronal development and seem beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiometabolic diseases and preventing later allergic disorders in the offspring by modifying the inflammatory immune responses.
In the present study, we investigated the association between maternal intake of n-3PUFAs, profiled on cord blood erythrocyte membranes, and offspring DNA methylation on cord blood mononuclear cells in 117 mother-newborn pairs from the “Feeding fetus’ low-grade inflammation and insulin-resistance” study cohort.
N-3 PUFA content on erythrocyte membranes is a validated biomarker to measure objectively medium term n-3 PUFA intake. Based on n-3 PUFA distribution in the whole cohorts of mothers, we identified mothers with low (n-3 PUFA concentration <25th percentile), medium (n-3 PUFAs between 25th and 75th percentiles), and high n-3 PUFA content (>75th percentile).
The HumanMethylation450 BeadChip (Illumina) was used for the epigenome-wide association study using the Infinium methylation assay.
No difference was found in the overall methylation profile. At the intergroup comparison, 8,503 sites had significantly different methylation between low and high n-3 PUFA groups; 12,716 between low and medium n-3 PUFA groups; 18,148 between high and medium n-3 PUFA groups. We found differentially methylated genes that belong prevalently to pathways of signal transduction, metabolism, downstream signaling of G protein-coupled receptors and gene expression among others. Within these pathways, we identified 4 differentially methylated genes, namely MSTN, IFNA13, ATP8B3 and GABBR2, that are involved in the onset of insulin resistance and adiposity, innate immune response, phospholipid translocation across cell membranes; mechanisms of addiction to high fat diet, alcohol and sweet taste.
In conclusion, our results suggest that maternal n-3 PUFAs intake during pregnancy has potential to influence the offspring DNA methylation.

Keywords: Epigenetics (MeSH), Inflammation, Insulin Resistance, metabolic programming, Pregnancy, polyunsaturated (essential) fatty acids

Received: 19 Feb 2019; Accepted: 30 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Bianchi, Alisi, Fabrizi, Vallone, Rava, Vernocchi, Signore and Manco. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Melania Manco, Bambino Gesù Children Hospital (IRCCS), Rome, 00165, Lazio, Italy,