Gene-by-stressor Interaction and Epigenetic Mechanisms in Preterm Birth among African Americans

Associate Name: Xiumei Hong, Xiaobin Wang

Funding Source/Period of the Grant: HPC Pilot 02/01/17-01/31/18


We propose a pilot study to elucidate the relationships among maternal genetic susceptibility, multilevel maternal stressor; maternal/fetal epigenetics in affecting PTB risk among African Americans, a subpopulation who are disproportionately affected by psychosocial stressors and poor birth and child health outcomes. Specifically, we will leverage the existing genome-wide genotyping and DNA methylation data in the Boston Birth Cohort (BBC) as well as the public available datasets to address two specific aims: Aim 1. We will test the interactions between maternal genotypes and multilevel maternal stressors on PTB risk in 2000 African-American mothers and will validate the findings using public available datasets from dbGAP; Aim 2: We will test the hypothesis that maternal and/or cord blood DNA methylation may mediate the gene-by-stressor interaction effects on PTB identified in Aim 1.

Our overarching goals of this pilot study are to leverage the Boston Birth Cohort (BBC), along with its extensive, high quality epidemiological, social and clinical databases, to make an important contribution to our understanding on how multilevel maternal stressor and maternal genetic variants interactively affect early child health.


Photo: "Mother with twins, 1999" by Seattle Municipal Archives is licensed under CC BY 2.0