Maternal serum PFOA concentration and DNA methylation in cord blood: A pilot study

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Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a perfluoroalkyl substance, is commonly detected in the serum of pregnant women and may impact fetal development via epigenetic re-programming. In a pilot study, we explored associations between serum PFOA concentrations during pregnancy and offspring peripheral leukocyte DNA methylation at delivery in women with high (n = 22, range: 12–26 ng/mL) and low (n = 22, range: 1.1–3.1 ng/mL) PFOA concentrations. After adjusting for cell type, child sex, and income, we did not find differences in CpG methylation in the two exposure groups that reached epigenome-wide significance. Among the 20 CpGs with the lowest p-values we found that seven CpG sites in three genes differed by exposure status. In a confirmatory cluster analysis, these 20 CpGs clustered into two groups that perfectly identified exposure status. Future studies with larger sample sizes should confirm these findings and determine if PFOA-associated changes in DNA methylation underlie potential health effects of PFOA.

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