Novel insights into the whole-blood DNA methylome of asthma in ethnically diverse children and youth

Esther Herrera-Luis, Carlos Rosa-Baez, Scott Huntsman, Celeste Eng, Kenneth B. Beckman, Michael A. LeNoir, Jose R. Rodriguez-Santana, Jesús Villar, Catherine Laprise, Luisa N. Borrell, Elad Ziv, Esteban G. Burchard, Maria Pino-Yanes

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Background The epigenetic mechanisms of asthma remain largely understudied in African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos, two populations disproportionately affected by asthma. We aimed to identify markers, regions and processes with differential patterns of DNA methylation (DNAm) in whole blood by asthma status in ethnically diverse children and youth, and to assess their functional consequences. Methods DNAm levels were profiled with the Infinium MethylationEPIC or HumanMethylation450 BeadChip arrays among 1226 African Americans or Hispanics/Latinos and assessed for differential methylation per asthma status at the CpG and region (differentially methylated region (DMR)) level. Novel associations were validated in blood and/or nasal epithelium from ethnically diverse children and youth. The functional and biological implications of the markers identified were investigated by combining epigenomics with transcriptomics from study participants. Results 128 CpGs and 196 DMRs were differentially methylated after multiple testing corrections, including 92.3% and 92.8% novel associations, respectively. 41 CpGs were replicated in other Hispanics/ Latinos, prioritising cg17647904 (NCOR2) and cg16412914 (AXIN1) as asthma DNAm markers. Significant DNAm markers were enriched in previous associations for asthma, fractional exhaled nitric oxide, bacterial infections, immune regulation or eosinophilia. Functional annotation highlighted epigenetically regulated gene networks involved in corticosteroid response, host defence and immune regulation. Several implicated genes are targets for approved or experimental drugs, including TNNC1 and NDUFA12. Many differentially methylated loci previously associated with asthma were validated in our study. Conclusions We report novel whole-blood DNAm markers for asthma underlying key processes of the disease pathophysiology and confirm the transferability of previous asthma DNAm associations to ethnically diverse populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2300714
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 10 2023

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©The authors 2023. For reproduction rights and permissions contact

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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