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DNA methylation and substance-use risk: a prospective, genome-wide study spanning gestation to adolescence

Cecil, CA; Walton, E; Smith, RG; Viding, E; McCrory, EJ; Relton, CL; Suderman, M; ... Barker, ED; + view all (2016) DNA methylation and substance-use risk: a prospective, genome-wide study spanning gestation to adolescence. Translational Psychiatry , 6 , Article e976. 10.1038/tp.2016.247. Green open access

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Abstract

Epigenetic processes have been implicated in addiction; yet, it remains unclear whether these represent a risk factor and/or a consequence of substance use. Here, we believe we conducted the first genome-wide, longitudinal study to investigate whether DNA methylation patterns in early life prospectively associate with substance use in adolescence. The sample comprised of 244 youth (51% female) from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), with repeated assessments of DNA methylation (Illumina 450k array; cord blood at birth, whole blood at age 7) and substance use (tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use; age 14-18). We found that, at birth, epigenetic variation across a tightly interconnected genetic network (n=65 loci; q<0.05) associated with greater levels of substance use during adolescence, as well as an earlier age of onset amongst users. Associations were specific to the neonatal period and not observed at age 7. Key annotated genes included PACSIN1, NEUROD4 and NTRK2, implicated in neurodevelopmental processes. Several of the identified loci were associated with known methylation quantitative trait loci, and consequently likely to be under significant genetic control. Collectively, these 65 loci were also found to partially mediate the effect of prenatal maternal tobacco smoking on adolescent substance use. Together, findings lend novel insights into epigenetic correlates of substance use, highlight birth as a potentially sensitive window of biological vulnerability and provide preliminary evidence of an indirect epigenetic pathway linking prenatal tobacco exposure and adolescent substance use.

Type: Article
Title: DNA methylation and substance-use risk: a prospective, genome-wide study spanning gestation to adolescence
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/tp.2016.247
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/tp.2016.247
Additional information: © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All Rights Reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1532790
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