Background/Objectives Obesity and maternal folate deficiency are associated with increased risk for neural tube defects (NTDs). Limited knowledge exists on the impact of folate status or obesity on DNA methylation of genes related to NTD risk and folate metabolism. Subjects/Methods Women (18–35y) with normal weight (NW; BMI 18.5–24.9 kg/m2; n = 12) and obesity (OB; BMI >30 kg/m2; n = 6) were provided FA (800 μg/d) for 8-weeks. Serum folate concentration and changes in DNA methylation across 2098 CpG sites in 91 genes related to NTD risk and folate metabolism were examined. Results Serum folate concentration increased in both groups following FA supplementation, but OB maintained a relative lower concentration (NW; 38.36 ± 2.50–71.41 ± 3.02 nmol/L and OB; 27.12 ± 3.09–56.85 ± 3.90 nmol/L). Methylation of 56 and 99 CpG sites changed in response to supplementation in NW and OB, respectively, and majority of these sites decreased in methylation in both groups. Only 4 CpG sites responded to supplementation in both groups. Gene ontology analysis revealed a response to supplementation in 61 biological processes (BPs) from the selected genes. Five of the 61 BPs were identified only in NW, including neural tube closure, while 13 of the 61 BPs were enriched only in OB, including folate metabolism, vitamin B12 metabolism and methylation related processes. Conclusions Changes in DNA methylation in genes related to NTD risk and folate metabolism in response to FA supplementation were different in NW and OB. Increased NTD risk and abnormal folate metabolism in obesity may be due to a distinctive epigenetic response to folate status in these genes.
Park, H. J., Bailey, L. B., Shade, D. C., Hausman, D. B., Hohos, N. M., Meagher, R. B., … Smith, A. K. (2017). Distinctions in gene-specific changes in DNA methylation in response to folic acid supplementation between women with normal weight and obesity. Obesity Research and Clinical Practice, 11(6), 665–676. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orcp.2017.06.004