Effects of Maternal Vitamin D3 Supplementation on Offspring Epigenetic Clock of Gestational Age at Birth: A Post-hoc Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Li Chen, Carol L. Wagner, Yanbin Dong, Xiaoling Wang, Judith R. Shary, Ying Huang, Bruce W. Hollis, Haidong Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Vitamin D could be beneficial for healthy ageing in humans. We previously found that vitamin D supplementation may slow down epigenetic ageing in young African American adults. We tested new epigenetic clocks developed for neonates among a multiethnic population, and tested the hypothesis that vitamin D supplementation would slow down the epigenetic gestational age acceleration (GAA) in newborn babies. Ninety-two pregnant women (aged 29.6 ± 4.8 y; 21% African Americans, 28% Hispanics) were randomized to receive 4000 IU/day vitamin D3 or placebo, plus prenatal vitamins containing 400 IU vitamin D3 during pregnancy in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Cord blood genome-wide methylation analysis was performed on the Illumina Infinium MethylationEPIC Beadchip. DNA methylation gestational age was calculated based on two calculations developed by Knight and Bohlin. DNA methylation gestational ages calculated by Knight’s clock and Bohlin’ clock were highly correlated with the gestational age in the placebo group (correlation coefficients = 0.88, p s< 0.001, respectively). GAA was associated with higher birth weight (p = 0.039). In the entire cohort, vitamin D3 supplementation was not associated with GAA (p > 0.05). However, vitamin D3 supplementation decreased GAA by both Knight’s clock (β = −0.89, p = 0.047) and Bohlin’s clock (β = −0.71, p = 0.005) in the African American participants. Vitamin D3 supplementation may slow down the epigenetic gestational ageing process in African American neonates. Long-term follow-up studies are warranted to determine the role of epigenetic age acceleration in the growth and development of offspring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • DNA methylation
  • Maternal vitamin D supplementation
  • cholecalciferol
  • epigenetic clock
  • gestational age
  • multiethnic population
  • prenatal nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research

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