NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1089337
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0009-3920
Prenatal Maternal Stress Predicts Methylation of Genes Regulating the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenocortical System in Mothers and Newborns in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Kertes, Darlene A.; Kamin, Hayley S.; Hughes, David A.; Rodney, Nicole C.; Bhatt, Samarth; Mulligan, Connie J.
Child Development, v87 n1 p61-72 Jan-Feb 2016
Exposure to stress early in life permanently shapes activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis and the brain. Prenatally, glucocorticoids pass through the placenta to the fetus with postnatal impacts on brain development, birth weight (BW), and HPA axis functioning. Little is known about the biological mechanisms by which prenatal stress affects postnatal functioning. This study addresses this gap by examining the effect of chronic stress and traumatic war-related stress on epigenetic changes in four key genes regulating the HPA axis in neonatal cord blood, placenta, and maternal blood: "CRH," "CRHBP," "NR3C1," and "FKBP5." Participants were 24 mother-newborn dyads in the conflict-ridden region of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. BW data were collected at delivery and maternal interviews were conducted to assess culturally relevant chronic and war-related stressors. Chronic stress and war trauma had widespread effects on HPA axis gene methylation, with significant effects observed at transcription factor binding (TFB) sites in all target genes tested. Some changes in methylation were unique to chronic or war stress, whereas others were observed across both stressor types. Moreover, stress exposures impacted maternal and fetal tissues differently, supporting theoretical models that stress impacts vary according to life phase. Methylation in several "NR3C1" and "CRH" CpG sites, all located at TFB sites, was associated with BW. These findings suggest that prenatal stress exposure impacts development via epigenetic changes in HPA axis genes.
Wiley-Blackwell. 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148. Tel: 800-835-6770; Tel: 781-388-8598; Fax: 781-388-8232; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF); National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) (DHHS/NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Congo
Grant or Contract Numbers: BCS1231264; UL1TR000064