Serum cholesterol, MTHFR methylation, and symptoms of depression in children

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Depression is associated with dietary factors and epigenetics. Serum cholesterol, which is prone to dietary influences, has been linked to symptoms of depression. This relationship may be (in part) due to altered epigenetic regulation of Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR). MTHFR codes for the MTHFR enzyme, which has diverse metabolic functions, and has recently been linked individually with diet, serum cholesterol levels and depressive symptoms. In 514 mother-child pairs, we examined prospective relationships between maternal (pregnancy) and child (7 years) serum cholesterol, MTHFR DNA methylation (DNAm; birth, 7 years), and development of depression symptoms from 8-15 years. After adjusting for potential confounding, we had three main findings. First, higher prenatal cholesterol associated (at a small effect size) with higher MTHFR DNAm at birth. Second, there was small effect size continuity for MTHFR DNAm between birth and age 7. Third, higher age 7 MTHFR DNAm associated with higher initial symptoms of depression symptoms at age 8, again at a small effect size. Overall, our findings provide preliminary evidence for a relationship between prenatal cholesterol, MTHFR DNAm, and symptoms of depression in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)in press
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cholesterol
  • Depression
  • Epigenetics


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