DNA methylation: An epigenetic risk factor in preterm birth

Ramkumar Menon, Karen N. Conneely, Alicia K. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

Spontaneous preterm birth (PTB; birth prior to 37 weeks of gestation) is a complex phenotype with multiple risk factors that complicate our understanding of its etiology. A number of recent studies have supported the hypothesis that epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation induced by pregnancy-related risk factors may influence the risk of PTB or result in changes that predispose a neonate to adult-onset diseases. The critical role of timing of gene expression in the etiology of PTB makes it a highly relevant disorder in which to examine the potential role of epigenetic changes. Because changes in DNA methylation patterns can result in long-term consequences, it is of critical interest to identify the epigenetic patterns associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. This review examines the potential role of DNA methylation as a risk factor for PTB and discusses several issues and limitations that should be considered when planning DNA methylation studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-13
Number of pages8
JournalReproductive Sciences
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2012

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Keywords

  • DNA
  • epigenetics
  • genetics
  • prematurity
  • preterm labor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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