England-Mason G, Merrill SM, Gladish N, Moore SR, Giesbrecht GF, Letourneau N, MacIsaac JL, MacDonald AM, Kinniburgh DW, Ponsonby AL, Saffery R, Martin JW, Kobor MS, Dewey D, APrON Study Team
Environ Int 163 (-) 107183 [2022-05-00; online 2022-03-21]
Prenatal exposure to phthalates has been associated with adverse health and neurodevelopmental outcomes. DNA methylation (DNAm) alterations may be a mechanism underlying these effects, but prior investigations of prenatal exposure to phthalates and neonatal DNAm profiles are limited to placental tissue and umbilical cord blood. Conduct an epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of the associations between prenatal exposure to phthalates and DNAm in two accessible infant tissues, venous buffy coat blood and buccal epithelial cells (BECs). Participants included 152 maternal-infant pairs from the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) study. Maternal second trimester urine samples were analyzed for nine phthalate metabolites. Blood (n = 74) or BECs (n = 78) were collected from 3-month-old infants and profiled for DNAm using the Infinium HumanMethylation450 (450K) BeadChip. Robust linear regressions were used to investigate the associations between high (HMWPs) and low molecular weight phthalates (LMWPs) and change in methylation levels at variable Cytosine-phosphate-Guanine (CpG) sites in infant tissues, as well as the sensitivity of associations to potential confounders. One candidate CpG in gene RNF39 reported by a previous study examining prenatal exposure to phthalates and cord blood DNAm was replicated. The EWAS identified 12 high-confidence CpGs in blood and another 12 in BECs associated with HMWPs and/or LMWPs. Prenatal exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) associated with two of the CpGs associated with HMWPs in BECs. Prenatal exposure to phthalates was associated with DNAm variation at CpGs annotated to genes associated with endocrine hormone activity (i.e., SLCO4A1, TPO), immune pathways and DNA damage (i.e., RASGEF1B, KAZN, HLA-A, MYO18A, DIP2C, C1or109), and neurodevelopment (i.e., AMPH, NOTCH3, DNAJC5). Future studies that characterize the stability of these associations in larger samples, multiple cohorts, across tissues, and investigate the potential associations between these biomarkers and relevant health and neurodevelopmental outcomes are needed.