Placental Adiponectin Gene DNA Methylation Levels Are Associated With Mothers’ Blood Glucose Concentration

  1. Diane Brisson2,5
  1. 1Department of Biochemistry, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada
  2. 2ECOGENE-21 Laboratory and the Lipid Clinic, Chicoutimi Hospital, Saguenay, Québec, Canada
  3. 3Department of Medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada
  4. 4Faculty of Pharmacy, Université Laval, Québec City, Québec Canada
  5. 5Department of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  1. Corresponding author: Luigi Bouchard, luigi.bouchard{at}


Growing evidence suggests that epigenetic profile changes occurring during fetal development in response to in utero environment variations could be one of the mechanisms involved in the early determinants of adult chronic diseases. In this study, we tested whether maternal glycemic status is associated with the adiponectin gene (ADIPOQ) DNA methylation profile in placenta tissue, in maternal circulating blood cells, and in cord blood cells. We found that lower DNA methylation levels in the promoter of ADIPOQ on the fetal side of the placenta were correlated with higher maternal glucose levels during the second trimester of pregnancy (2-h glucose after the oral glucose tolerance test; rs ≤ −0.21, P < 0.05). Lower DNA methylation levels on the maternal side of the placenta were associated with higher insulin resistance index (homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance) during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy (rs ≤ −0.27, P < 0.05). Finally, lower DNA methylation levels were associated with higher maternal circulating adiponectin levels throughout pregnancy (rs ≤ −0.26, P < 0.05). In conclusion, the ADIPOQ DNA methylation profile was associated with maternal glucose status and with maternal circulating adiponectin concentration. Because adiponectin is suspected to have insulin-sensitizing proprieties, these epigenetic adaptations have the potential to induce sustained glucose metabolism changes in the mother and offspring later in life.

  • Received August 18, 2011.
  • Accepted December 6, 2011.

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