Placenta and fetal brain share a neurodevelopmental disorder DNA methylation profile in a mouse model of prenatal PCB exposure


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are developmental neurotoxicants implicated as environmental risk factors for neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). Here, we report the effects of prenatal exposure to a human-relevant mixture of PCBs on the DNA methylation profiles of mouse placenta and fetal brain. Thousands of differentially methylated regions (DMRs) distinguish placenta and fetal brain from PCB-exposed mice from sex-matched vehicle controls. In both placenta and fetal brain, PCB-associated DMRs are enriched for functions related to neurodevelopment and cellular signaling and enriched within regions of bivalent chromatin. The placenta and brain PCB DMRs overlap significantly and map to a shared subset of genes enriched for Wnt signaling, Slit/Robo signaling, and genes differentially expressed in NDD models. The consensus PCB DMRs also significantly overlap with DMRs from human NDD brain and placenta. These results demonstrate that PCB-exposed placenta contains a subset of DMRs that overlap fetal brain DMRs relevant to an NDD.

Cell Reports