The placenta is important in providing a healthy environment for the fetus and plays a central role in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia (PE). Fetal and placental developments are influenced by epigenetic programming. There is some evidence that PE is controlled to an altered circadian homeostasis. In a nested case–control study embedded in the Rotterdam Periconceptional Cohort, we obtained placental tissue, umbilical cord leukocytes (UCL), and human umbilical venous endothelial cells of 13 early-onset PE, 16 late-onset PE and 83 controls comprising 36 uncomplicated and 47 complicated pregnancies, i.e. 27 fetal growth restricted and 20 spontaneous preterm birth. To investigate the associations between PE and the epigenetics of circadian clock and clock-controlled genes in placental and newborn tissues, genome-wide DNA methylation analysis was performed using the Illumina HumanMethylation450K BeadChip and a candidate-gene approach using ANCOVA was applied on 939 CpGs of 39 circadian clock and clock-controlled genes. DNA methylation significantly differed in early-onset PE compared with spontaneous preterm birth at 6 CpGs in placental tissue (3.73E-5 ≤ p ≤ 0.016) and at 21 CpGs in UCL (1.09E-5≤ p ≤ 0.024). In early-onset PE compared with fetal growth restriction 2 CpGs in placental tissue (p < 0.05) and 8 CpGs in uncomplicated controls (4.78E-5≤ p ≤ 0.049) were significantly different. Moreover, significantly different DNA methylation in early-onset PE compared with uncomplicated controls was shown at 6 CpGs in placental tissue (1.36E-4≤ p ≤ 0.045) and 11 CpGs in uncomplicated controls (2.52E-6≤ p ≤ 0.009). No significant associations were shown with late-onset PE between study groups or tissues. The most differentially methylated CpGs showed hypomethylation in placental tissue and hypermethylation in uncomplicated controls. In conclusion, DNA methylation of circadian clock and clock-controlled genes demonstrated most differences in UCL of early-onset PE compared with spontaneous preterm birth. Implications of the tissue-specific variations in epigenetic programming for circadian performance and long-term health need further investigation.

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Keywords circadian clock, DNA methylation, epigenetics, fetal growth restriction, human umbilical venous endothelial cells (HUVEC), placenta, Preeclampsia, preterm birth, umbilical cord leukocytes
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1080/07420528.2017.1326125, hdl.handle.net/1765/100567
Journal Chronobiology International
Citation
Van Den Berg, C, Chaves, I, Herzog, E, Willemsen, S.P, van der Horst, G.T.J, & Steegers-Theunissen, R.P.M. (2017). Early- and late-onset preeclampsia and the DNA methylation of circadian clock and clock-controlled genes in placental and newborn tissues. Chronobiology International, 1–12. doi:10.1080/07420528.2017.1326125