Recent experiments in a turbulent boundary layer by Gerashchenko et al. (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 617, 2008, pp. 255–281) showed that the variance of inertial particle accelerations in the near-wall region increased with increasing particle inertia, contrary to the trend found in homogeneous and isotropic turbulence. This behaviour was attributed to the non-trivial interaction of the inertial particles with both the mean shear and gravity. To investigate this issue, we perform direct numerical simulations of channel flow with suspended inertial particles that are tracked in the Lagrangian frame of reference. Three simulations have been carried out considering (i) fluid particles, (ii) inertial particles with gravity and (iii) inertial particles without gravity. For each set of simulations, three particle response times were examined, corresponding to particle Stokes numbers (in wall units) of 0.9, 1.8 and 11.8. Mean and r.m.s. profiles of particle acceleration computed in the simulation are in qualitative (and in several cases quantitative) agreement with the experimental results, supporting the assumptions made in the simulations. Furthermore, by comparing results from simulations with and without gravity, we are able to isolate and quantify the significant effect of gravitational settling on the phenomenon.