PloS one

Higher Alu methylation levels in catch-up growth in twenty-year-old offsprings.

PMID 25807557


Alu elements and long interspersed element-1 (LINE-1 or L1) are two major human intersperse repetitive sequences. Lower Alu methylation, but not LINE-1, has been observed in blood cells of people in old age, and in menopausal women having lower bone mass and osteoporosis. Nevertheless, Alu methylation levels also vary among young individuals. Here, we explored phenotypes at birth that are associated with Alu methylation levels in young people. In 2010, 249 twenty-years-old volunteers whose mothers had participated in a study association between birth weight (BW) and nutrition during pregnancy in 1990, were invited to take part in our present study. In this study, the LINE-1 and Alu methylation levels and patterns were measured in peripheral mononuclear cells and correlated with various nutritional parameters during intrauterine and postnatal period of offspring. This included the amount of maternal intake during pregnancy, the mother's weight gain during pregnancy, birth weight, birth length, and the rate of weight gain in the first year of life. Catch-up growth (CUG) was defined when weight during the first year was >0.67 of the standard score, according to WHO data. No association with LINE-1 methylation was identified. The mean level of Alu methylation in the CUG group was significantly higher than those non-CUG (39.61% and 33.66 % respectively, P < 0.0001). The positive correlation between the history of CUG in the first year and higher Alu methylation indicates the role of Alu methylation, not only in aging cells, but also in the human growth process. Moreover, here is the first study that demonstrated the association between a phenotype during the newborn period and intersperse repetitive sequences methylation during young adulthood.