Epigenetic mechanisms involved in intrauterine growth restriction and aberrant kidney development and function

Thu N.A. Doan, Jessica F. Briffa, Aaron L. Phillips, Shalem Y. Leemaqz, Rachel A. Burton, Tania Romano, Mary E. Wlodek, Tina Bianco-Miotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) due to uteroplacental insufficiency results in a placenta that is unable to provide adequate nutrients and oxygen to the fetus. These growth-restricted babies have an increased risk of hypertension and chronic kidney disease later in life. In rats, both male and female growth-restricted offspring have nephron deficits but only males develop kidney dysfunction and high blood pressure. In addition, there is transgenerational transmission of nephron deficits and hypertension risk. Therefore, epigenetic mechanisms may explain the sex-specific programming and multigenerational transmission of IUGR-related phenotypes. Expression of DNA methyltransferases (Dnmt1and Dnmt3a) and imprinted genes (Peg3, Snrpn, Kcnq1, and Cdkn1c) were investigated in kidney tissues of sham and IUGR rats in F1 (embryonic day 20 (E20) and postnatal day 1 (PN1)) and F2 (6 and 12 months of age, paternal and maternal lines) generations (n = 6-13/group). In comparison to sham offspring, F1 IUGR rats had a 19% decrease in Dnmt3a expression at E20 (P < 0.05), with decreased Cdkn1c (19%, P < 0.05) and increased Kcnq1 (1.6-fold, P < 0.01) at PN1. There was a sex-specific difference in Cdkn1c and Snrpn expression at E20, with 29% and 34% higher expression in IUGR males compared to females, respectively (P < 0.05). Peg3 sex-specific expression was lost in the F2 IUGR offspring, only in the maternal line. These findings suggest that epigenetic mechanisms may be altered in renal embryonic and/or fetal development in growth-restricted offspring, which could alter kidney function, predisposing these offspring to kidney disease later in life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)952-962
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • fetal development
  • imprinted genes
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • kidney
  • uteroplacental insufficiency


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