Exploring childhood disadvantage and DNA methylation

two strands of dna
GCB News

Exploring childhood disadvantage and DNA methylation

Avshalom Caspi, Terrie Moffitt and team, including analysis help by the Genomic Analysis and Bioinformatics Shared Resource, explored whether children who were raised in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods is associated with differences in DNA methylation by the time they turn 18 years of age.

Using data from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study in the UK, the team measured several aspects of the participants’ neighborhoods across childhood and adolescence, indexing neighborhood deprivation, dilapidation, disconnection and dangerousness. They integrated those neighborhood assessments with measure of DNA methylation in whole blood drawn at age 18. Their results were published June 1 in JAMA Network Open.

Their analyses suggest that neighborhood disadvantage is associated with DNA methylation differences in genes involved in inflammation, exposure to tobacco smoke and metabolism of toxic air pollutants. Their results suggest children raised in disadvantaged neighborhoods enter adulthood epigenetically distinct from their more advantaged peers.


Invited Commentary: The Role of Neighborhood Social Characteristics on the Epigenome – Why the Lack of Investigations?

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