Genome-wide DNA methylation associations with spontaneous preterm birth in US blacks: findings in maternal and cord blood samples

Xiumei Hong, Ben Sherwood, Christine Ladd-Acosta, Shouneng Peng, Hongkai Ji, Ke Hao, Irina Burd, Tami R. Bartell, Guoying Wang, Hui Ju Tsai, Xin Liu, Yuelong Ji, Anastacia Wahl, Deanna Caruso, Aviva Lee-Parritz, Barry Zuckerman, Xiaobin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Preterm birth (PTB) affects one in six Black babies in the United States. Epigenetics is believed to play a role in PTB; however, only a limited number of epigenetic studies of PTB have been reported, most of which have focused on cord blood DNA methylation (DNAm) and/or were conducted in white populations. Here we conducted, by far, the largest epigenome-wide DNAm analysis in 300 Black women who delivered early spontaneous preterm (sPTB, n = 150) or full-term babies (n = 150) and replicated the findings in an independent set of Black mother-newborn pairs from the Boston Birth Cohort. DNAm in maternal blood and/or cord blood was measured using the Illumina HumanMethylation450 BeadChip. We identified 45 DNAm loci in maternal blood associated with early sPTB, with a false discovery rate (FDR) <5%. Replication analyses confirmed sPTB associations for cg03915055 and cg06804705, located in the promoter regions of the CYTIP and LINC00114 genes, respectively. Both loci had comparable associations with early sPTB and early medically-indicated PTB, but attenuated associations with late sPTB. These associations could not be explained by cell composition, gestational complications, and/or nearby maternal genetic variants. Analyses in the newborns of the 110 Black women showed that cord blood methylation levels at both loci had no associations with PTB. The findings from this study underscore the role of maternal DNAm in PTB risk, and provide a set of maternal loci that may serve as biomarkers for PTB. Longitudinal studies are needed to clarify temporal relationships between maternal DNAm and PTB risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • DNA methylation
  • epigenome-wide associations
  • maternal blood
  • spontaneous preterm birth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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