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).
Giannese, F., Luchetti, A., Barbiera, G., Lampis, V., Zanettini, C., Knudsen, GP., Scaini, S., Lazarevic, D., Cittaro, D., D'Amato, FR., & Battaglia, M. (2018). Conserved DNA Methylation Signatures in Early Maternal Separation and in Twins Discordant for CO2Sensitivity. Scientific Reports, 8(5), . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-20457-3