Uteroplacental insufficiency affects epigenetic determinants of chromatin structure in brains of neonatal and juvenile IUGR rats

X. Ke, Q. Lei, S. J. James, S. L. Kelleher, S. Melnyk, S. Jernigan, X. Yu, L. Wang, C. W. Callaway, G. Gill, G. M. Chan, K. H. Albertine, R. A. McKnight, R. H. Lane

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129 Scopus citations


Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) increases the risk of neuroendocrine reprogramming. In the rat, IUGR leads to persistent changes in cerebral mRNA levels. This suggests lasting alterations in IUGR cerebral transcriptional regulation, which may result from changes in chromatin structure. Candidate nutritional triggers for these changes include altered cerebral zinc and one-carbon metabolite levels. We hypothesized that IUGR affects cerebral chromatin structure in neonatal and postnatal rat brains. Rats were rendered IUGR by bilateral uterine artery ligation; controls (Con) underwent sham surgery. At day of life 0 (d0), we measured cerebral DNA methylation, histone acetylation, expression of chromatin-affecting enzymes, and cerebral levels of one-carbon metabolites and zinc. At day of life 21 (d21), we measured cerebral DNA methylation and histone acetylation, as well as the caloric content of Con and IUGR rat breast milk. At d0, IUGR significantly decreased genome-wide and CpG island methylation, as well as increased histone 3 lysine 9 (H3/K9) and histone 3 lysine 14 (H3/K14) acetylation in the hippocampus and periventricular white matter, respectively. IUGR also decreased expression of the chromatin-affecting enzymes DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1), methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2), and histone deacetylase (HDAC)1 in association with increased cerebral levels of zinc. In d21 female IUGR rats, cerebral CpG DNA methylation remained lower, whereas H3/K9 and H3/K14 hyperacetylation persisted in hippocampus and white matter, respectively. In d21 male rats, IUGR decreased acetylation of H3/K9 and H3/K14 in these respective regions compared with controls. Despite these differences, caloric, fat, and protein content were similar in breast milk from Con and IUGR dams. We conclude that IUGR results in postnatal changes in cerebral chromatin structure and that these changes are sex specific.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-28
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiological genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 13 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Genetics


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