Title: DNA methylation of NR3c1 in infancy: Associations between maternal caregiving and infant sex.
Authors: Conradt, Elisabeth; Ostlund, Brendan; Guerin, Dylan; Armstrong, David A; Marsit, Carmen J; Tronick, Edward; LaGasse, Lyn; Lester, Barry M
Published In Infant Ment Health J, (2019 07)
Abstract: Caregivers play a critical role in scaffolding infant stress reactivity and regulation, but the mechanisms by which this scaffolding occurs is unclear. Animal models strongly suggest that epigenetic processes, such as DNA methylation, are sensitive to caregiving behaviors and, in turn, offspring stress reactivity. We examined the direct effects of caregiving behaviors on DNA methylation in infants and infant stress reactivity. Infants and mothers (N = 128) were assessed during a free play when infants were 5 months old. Maternal responsiveness and appropriate touch were coded. and infant buccal epithelial cells were sampled to assess for DNA methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene, NR3c1 exon 1F. Infant cortisol reactivity was assessed in response to the still-face paradigm. Greater levels of maternal responsiveness and appropriate touch were related to less DNA methylation of specific regions in NR3c1 exon 1F, but only for females. There was no association with maternal responsiveness and appropriate touch or DNA methylation of NR3c1 exon 1F on prestress cortisol or cortisol reactivity. Our results are discussed in relation to programming models that implicate maternal care as an important factor in programing infant stress reactivity.
PubMed ID: 31066465
MeSH Terms: Adult; DNA Methylation/physiology*; Epigenesis, Genetic/genetics; Epigenesis, Genetic/physiology; Female; Humans; Hydrocortisone/metabolism*; Infant; Male; Maternal Behavior*; Mother-Child Relations*; Mothers*; Receptors, Glucocorticoid/genetics*; Sex Factors; Young Adult