Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has been associated with low birth weight of fresh embryo transfer (FRESH) derived and increased birth weight of frozen embryo transfer (FET)-derived newborns. Owing to that, we focused on imprinted insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2)/H19 locus known to be important for normal growth. This locus is regulated by H19 imprinting control region (ICR) with seven binding sites for the methylation-sensitive zinc finger regulatory protein (CTCF). A polymorphism rs10732516 G/A in the sixth binding site for CTCF, associates with a genotype-specific trend to the DNA methylation. Due to this association, 62 couples with singleton pregnancies derived from FRESH (44 IVF/18 ICSI), 24 couples from FET (15 IVF/9 ICSI), and 157 couples with spontaneously conceived pregnancies as controls were recruited in Finland and Estonia for genotype-specific examination. DNA methylation levels at the H19 ICR, H19 DMR, and long interspersed nuclear elements in placental tissue were explored by MassARRAY EpiTYPER (n = 122). Allele-specific changes in the methylation level of H19 ICR in placental tissue (n = 26) and white blood cells (WBC, n = 8) were examined by bisulfite sequencing. Newborns' (n = 243) anthropometrics was analyzed by using international growth standards.
A consistent trend of genotype-specific decreased methylation level was observed in paternal allele of rs10732516 paternal A/maternal G genotype, but not in paternal G/maternal A genotype, at H19 ICR in ART placentas. This hypomethylation was not detected in WBCs. Also genotype-specific differences in FRESH-derived newborns' birth weight and head circumference were observed (P = 0.04, P = 0.004, respectively): FRESH-derived newborns with G/G genotype were heavier (P = 0.04) and had larger head circumference (P = 0.002) compared to newborns with A/A genotype. Also, the placental weight and birth weight of controls, FRESH- and FET-derived newborns differed significantly in rs10732516 A/A genotype (P = 0.024, P = 0.006, respectively): the placentas and newborns of FET-derived pregnancies were heavier compared to FRESH-derived pregnancies (P = 0.02, P = 0.004, respectively).
The observed DNA methylation changes together with the phenotypic findings suggest that rs10732516 polymorphism associates with the effects of ART in a parent-of-origin manner. Therefore, this polymorphism should be considered when the effects of environmental factors on embryonic development are studied.