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Poor intrauterine and childhood growth has been linked with the risk of osteoporosis in later life, a relationship that may in part be mediated through altered epigenetic regulation of genes. We previously identified a region within the promoter of the long non-coding RNA ANRIL encoded by the CDKN2A locus, at which differential DNA methylation at birth showed correlations with offspring adiposity. Given the common lineage of adipocytes and osteoblasts, we investigated the relationship between perinatal CDKN2A methylation and bone mass at ages 4 and 6 years. Using sodium bisulfite pyrosequencing, we measured the methylation status of the 9 CpGs within this region in umbilical cord samples from discovery (n = 332) and replication (n = 337) cohorts of children from the Southampton Women's Survey, whose bone mass was assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiomietry (DXA; Hologic Discovery). Inverse associations were found between perinatal CDKN2A methylation and whole-body minus head bone area (BA), bone mineral content (BMC), and areal bone mineral density (BMD). This was confirmed in replication and combined data sets (all p < 0.01), with each 10% increase in methylation being associated with a decrease in BMC of 4 to 9 g at age 4 years (p ≤ 0.001). Relationships were similar with 6-year bone mass. Functional investigation of the differentially methylated region in the SaOS-2 osteosarcoma cell line showed that transcription factors bound to the identified CpGs in a methylation-specific manner and that CpG mutagenesis modulated ANRIL expression. In conclusion, perinatal methylation at CDKN2A is associated with childhood bone development and has significance for cell function. © 2017 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

Original publication




Journal article


J bone miner res

Publication Date





2030 - 2040


CDKN2A, DEVELOPMENT, DXA, EPIDEMIOLOGY, EPIGENETICS, OSTEOPOROSIS, Adult, Bone Density, Bone and Bones, Calcification, Physiologic, Cell Line, Tumor, Cohort Studies, CpG Islands, Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p18, DNA Methylation, Female, Health Surveys, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Organ Size, Osteosarcoma, United Kingdom