Maternal adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and offspring imprinted gene DMR methylation at birth.


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) contribute to numerous negative health outcomes across the life course and across generations. Here, we extend prior work by examining the association of maternal ACEs, and their interaction with financial stress and discrimination, with methylation status within eight differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in imprinted domains in newborns. ACEs, financial stress during pregnancy, and experience of discrimination were self-reported among 232 pregnant women. DNA methylation was assessed at PEG10/SGCE, NNAT, IGF2, H19, PLAGL1, PEG3, MEG3-IG, and DLK1/MEG3 regulatory sequences using pyrosequencing. Using multivariable linear regression models, we found evidence to suggest that financial stress was associated with hypermethylation of MEG3-IG in non-Hispanic White newborns; discrimination was associated with hypermethylation of IGF2 and NNAT in Hispanic newborns, and with hypomethylation of PEG3 in non-Hispanic Black newborns. We also found evidence that maternal ACEs interacted with discrimination to predict offspring PLAGL1 altered DMR methylation, in addition to interactions between maternal ACEs score and discrimination predicting H19 and SGCE/PEG10 altered methylation in non-Hispanic White newborns. However, these interactions were not statistically significant after multiple testing corrections. Findings from this study suggest that maternal ACEs, discrimination, and financial stress are associated with newborn aberrant methylation in imprinted gene regions.





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Publication Info

Vidal, Adriana C, David W Sosnowski, Joddy Marchesoni, Carole Grenier, John Thorp, Susan K Murphy, Sara B Johnson, Billy Schlief, et al. (2024). Maternal adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and offspring imprinted gene DMR methylation at birth. Epigenetics, 19(1). p. 2293412. 10.1080/15592294.2023.2293412 Retrieved from

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Susan Kay Murphy

Associate Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Murphy is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and serves as Chief of the Division of Reproductive Sciences. As a molecular biologist with training in human epigenetics, her research interests are largely centered around the role of epigenetic modifications in health and disease. 

Dr. Murphy has ongoing projects on gynecologic malignancies, including approaches to eradicate ovarian cancer cells that survive chemotherapy and later give rise to recurrent disease. Dr. Murphy is actively involved in many collaborative projects relating to the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD).

Her lab is currently working on preconception environmental exposures in males, particularly on the impact of cannabis on the sperm epigenome and the potential heritability of these effects. They are also studying the epigenetic and health effects of in utero exposures, with primary focus on children from the Newborn Epigenetics STudy (NEST), a pregnancy cohort she co-founded who were recruited from central North Carolina between 2005 and 2011. Dr. Murphy and her colleagues continue to follow NEST children to determine relationships between prenatal exposures and later health outcomes.

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