DNA Methylation and Cognitive Functioning in Preschool Aged Children Público

Ronkin, Emily Guay (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/hx11xf51f?locale=es
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Abstract

Abstract
DNA Methylation and Cognitive Functioning in Preschool Aged Children

Novel research concerning a phenomenon termed epigenetics has shown that the environment can interact with, and alter, what were previously thought to be permanent, genetic predispositions toward behavior. This study examines one such epigenetic mechanism, DNA methylation, and its association with child cognitive outcomes during the preschool period. 74 women and their children were recruited from the Emory Women's Mental Health Program (WMHP) to take part in this study. Cord blood collected at delivery was used to assay methylation of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene. Obstetric and delivery complication data were obtained from hospital records. When the child was 2.5 to 5.5 years of age maternal mental illness history and cognitive outcomes were measured. These data were used to test the hypotheses that there would be an association between higher methylation levels and negative cognitive outcomes, exposure to early life stress and negative cognitive outcomes, and finally that higher levels of methylation would interact with exposure to early life stress to predict more negative cognitive outcomes than the other children. Previous literature demonstrated relationships between methylation of BDNF, early life stress, and cognitive functioning. No significant associations were found between higher levels of methylation and lower levels of cognitive functioning or between exposure to early life stressors and lower levels of cognitive functioning. A few significant interactions were found between methylation levels and early life stressors predicting cognitive functioning, however all but one pointed in the direction opposite of what was hypothesized. Since this study found conflicting results and this field is so new, further research is needed.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Introduction...1

Epigenetics...1
BDNF...3
Genetics and Cognition...3
The Moderating Role of the Environment...4
Maternal Mental Illness and Cognitive Outcomes...5
Delivery Complications and Cognitive Outcomes...6

The Current Study...7

Hypotheses...7
Method...7
Measures...8
Results...11

Discussion...15
Limitations...19
References...21
Table 1: Descriptives of BDNF, moderators, and DVs...26
Table 2: Correlations between BDNF Methylation and Cognitive Measures...27
Table 3: Partial Correlations between Moderators and DAS Verbal...28
Table 4: BDNF Methylation by Environment Interactions Predicting DAS Verbal Scores...29
Table 5: BDNF Methylation by Environment Interactions Predicting DAS Nonverbal Scores...30
Table 6: BDNF Methylation by Environment Interactions Predicting BRIEF ISCI Scores...31
Table 7: BDNF Methylation by Environment Interactions Predicting BRIEF EMI Scores...32
Table 8: BDNF Methylation by Environment Interactions Predicting BRIEF FI Scores...33

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