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Increasing evidence links epigenetic variation to anthropometric and metabolic measures. Leptin signalling regulates appetite and energy expenditure, and in pregnancy is important for nutrient supply to the foetus. Maternal metabolic health and foetal growth are linked to infant blood leptin gene (LEP) methylation, which has been cross-sectionally associated with adolescent obesity. Despite this, few studies have explored the relationship between infant LEP methylation and childhood anthropometry, or the impact of genetic variation on these relationships. Using a prospective birth cohort, we investigated whether blood LEP promoter methylation at birth and 12 months predicts weight and adiposity at 4-years. Locus-specific methylation data was analysed by partial correlation tests and multivariable linear regression. There was weak evidence of an association of birth LEP methylation with anthropometry measures at 4 years. Methylation at a specific site (cg19594666) at 12 months was inversely associated with 4-year weight (r = -0.11, p = 0.02) and body-mass index (BMI) (r = -0.13, p = 0.007), which persisted following adjustment for weight at birth and at 12 months. Neither association was influenced by genotype. We report the first evidence of an association between LEP methylation in infancy and childhood weight. Replication in additional cohorts is required to determine if this relationship persists.

Original publication




Journal article


International journal of obesity (2005)

Publication Date





842 - 847


Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Parkville, VIC, Australia.


Barwon Infant Study Investigator Team