Genomic imprinting alterations have been shown to be associated with assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) in animals. At present, data obtained in humans are inconclusive; however, some epidemiological studies have demonstrated an increased incidence of imprinting disorders in children conceived by ARTs. In the present study, we focused on the effect of ARTs [IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)] on the epigenetic reprogramming of the maternally methylated imprinting control region KvDMR1 in clinically normal children. Qualitative and quantitative methylation at KvDMR1 were assessed by the methylation-specific PCR approach and by the methylation-sensitive enzymatic digestion associated with real-time PCR method, respectively. DNA was obtained from peripheral blood of 12/18 and umbilical cord blood and placenta of 6/18 children conceived by IVF or ICSI. The methylation patterns observed in this group were compared with the patterns observed in 30 clinically normal naturally conceived children (negative controls) and in 3 naturally conceived Beckwith–Wiedemann syndrome patients (positive controls). Hypomethylation at KvDMR1 was observed in 3/18 clinically normal children conceived by ARTs (2 conceived by IVF and 1 by ICSI). A discordant methylation pattern was observed in the three corresponding dizygotic twins. Our findings corroborate the hypothesis of vulnerability of maternal imprinting to ARTs. Furthermore, the discordant methylation at KvDMR1 observed between dizygotic twins could be consequent to one of the following possibilities: (i) a differential vulnerability of maternal imprints among different embryos; or (ii) epimutations that occurred during gametogenesis resulting in the production of oocytes without the correct primary imprint at KvDMR1.
Keywords: assisted reproduction; DNA methylation; genomic imprinting; KvDMR1
Journal Article. 3774 words. Illustrated.
Subjects: Reproductive Medicine
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