Conserved DNA Methylation Signatures in Early Maternal Separation and in Twins Discordant for CO2Sensitivity

F Giannese, Alessandra Luchetti, G Barbiera, V Lampis, C Zanettini, GP Knudsen, S Scaini, D Lazarevic, D Cittaro, FR D'Amato, M Battaglia

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Respiratory and emotional responses to blood-acidifying inhalation of CO 2 are markers of some human anxiety disorders, and can be enhanced by repeatedly cross-fostering (RCF) mouse pups from their biological mother to unrelated lactating females. Yet, these dynamics remain poorly understood. We show RCF-associated intergenerational transmission of CO 2 sensitivity in normally-reared mice descending from RCF-exposed females, and describe the accompanying alterations in brain DNA methylation patterns. These epigenetic signatures were compared to DNA methylation profiles of monozygotic twins discordant for emotional reactivity to a CO 2 challenge. Altered methylation was consistently associated with repeated elements and transcriptional regulatory regions among RCF-exposed animals, their normally-reared offspring, and humans with CO 2 hypersensitivity. In both species, regions bearing differential methylation were associated with neurodevelopment, circulation, and response to pH acidification processes, and notably included the ASIC2 gene. Our data show that CO 2 hypersensitivity is associated with specific methylation clusters and genes that subserve chemoreception and anxiety. The methylation status of genes implicated in acid-sensing functions can inform etiological and therapeutic research in this field. © 2018 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Article number2258
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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