DNA methylation of stress-related genes and LINE-1 repetitive elements across the healthy human placenta

A. L. Non, A. M. Binder, L. Barault, R. C. Rancourt, L. D. Kubzansky, K. B. Michels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: DNA methylation is known to play a critical role in regulating development of placental morphology and physiology. The methylation of genes mediated by glucocorticoid hormones may be particularly vulnerable to intrauterine stress in the placenta. However little is known about DNA methylation of stress-related genes within a healthy placenta, and particularly whether methylation occurs uniformly across different regions of the placenta, which is a critical question for researchers seeking to analyze methylation patterns. We examined DNA methylation across four regions of the placenta to evaluate methylation levels of stress-related genes within a healthy placenta, and to evaluate whether methylation patterns vary by sampling location. Study design: We evaluated levels of DNA methylation of three stress-related genes: NR3C1, BDNF, and 11B-HSD2 and of the repetitive element, LINE-1, in four different sample locations of 20 healthy placentas. Main outcome measures: Pyrosequencing was used to quantify levels of methylation at CpG sites within the promoter regions of each of the three stress-related genes, and global methylation of LINE-1. Results: Very low levels of methylation were found across all three stress-related genes; no gene showed a median methylation level greater than 4.20% across placental regions. Variation in methylation between placental regions for stress-related genes and for LINE-1 was minimal. Conclusions: Our data suggest that these frequently studied stress-related genes have low levels of methylation in healthy placenta tissue. Minimal variation between sites suggests that sampling location does not affect DNA methylation analyses of these genes or of LINE-1 repetitive elements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-187
Number of pages5
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • 11B-HSD2
  • BDNF
  • Glucocorticoid receptor
  • LINE-1
  • Placenta
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'DNA methylation of stress-related genes and LINE-1 repetitive elements across the healthy human placenta'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this