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Am J Transl Res 2013;5(2):116-125

Review Article
Linking DNA methylation to the onset of human tubal ectopic preg-
nancy

Lei Wang, Yi Feng, Shien Zou, Mats Brännström, Lin He, Håkan Billig, Ruijin Shao

Institutes of Biomedical Sciences at Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China; Bio-X Center, Key Laboratory for
the Genetics of Develop-mental and Neuropsychiatric Disorders, Ministry of Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong
University, Shanghai 200032, China; Department of Physiology/Endocrinology, Institute of Neuroscience and
Physiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg 40530, Sweden; Department of
Integrative Medicine and Neurobiology, State Key Lab of Medical Neurobiology, Shanghai Medical College and
Institute of Acupuncture Research (WHO Collaborating Center for Traditional Medicine), Institute of Brain Science,
Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China; Department of Gynecology, Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of
Fudan University, Shanghai 200011, China; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Institute of Clinical
Sciences, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg 41345, Sweden

Received February 6, 2013; Accepted March 2, 2013; Epub March 28, 2013; Published April 8, 2013

Abstract: Ectopic pregnancy is a common reproductive disorder of unknown etiology and is a leading cause of
maternal and fetal mortality. Because of the asymptomatic nature of early tubal ectopic pregnancy and the lack of
specific biomarkers for early diagnosis, a better under-standing of the complex cellular and molecular
interactions that contribute to tubal ectopic pregnancy is required. DNA methylation is the most studied epigenetic
process in various tissues and cells, and the goal of this article is to provide a brief review of recent work
describing the potential mechanisms of DNA methylation and the biological function of such methylation in
normal intrauterine pregnancy. Further, novel findings from our laboratory highlight the possible role of DNA
methylation in human Fallopian tube dysfunction and suggest a possible correlation between methylation of
estrogen receptor α in women and the occurrence of tubal ectopic pregnancies (AJTR1302006).

Keywords: DNA methylation, DNMT, implantation, ectopic pregnancy, fallopian tube

Address correspondence to: Dr. Ruijin Shao, Department of Physiology/Endocrinology, Institute of Neuroscience
and Physiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg 40530, Sweden. Phone: 46 31
786 3408; Fax: 46 31 786 3512; E-mail: ruijin.shao@fysiologi.gu.se