Newborn DNA methylation and asthma acquisition across adolescence and early adulthood


Background: Little is known about the association of newborn DNA methylation (DNAm) with asthma acquisition across adolescence and early adult life. Objective: We aim to identify epigenetic biomarkers in newborns for asthma acquisition during adolescence or young adulthood. Methods: The Isle of Wight Birth Cohort (IOWBC) (n = 1456) data at ages 10, 18 and 26 years were assessed. To screen cytosine-phosphate-guanine site (CpGs) potentially associated with asthma acquisition, at the genome scale, we examined differentially methylated regions (DMR) using dmrff R package and individual CpG sites using linear regression on such associations. For CpGs that passed screening, we examined their enrichment in biological pathways using their mapping genes and tested their associations with asthma acquisitions using logistic regressions. Findings in IOWBC were tested in an independent cohort, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) cohort. Results: In total, 2636 unique CpGs passed screening, based on which we identified one biological pathway linked to asthma acquisition during adolescence in females (FDR adjusted p-value =.003 in IOWBC). Via logistic regressions, for females, four CpGs were shown to be associated with asthma acquisition during adolescence, and another four CpGs with asthma acquisition in young adulthood (FDR adjusted p-value <.05 in IOWBC) and these eight CpGs were replicated in ALSPAC (all p-values <.05). DNAm at all the identified CpGs was shown to be temporally consistent, and at six of the CpGs was associated with expressions of adjacent or mapping genes in females (all p-values <.05). For males, 622 CpGs were identified in IOWBC (FDR = 0.01), but these were not tested in ALSPAC due to small sample sizes. Conclusion and clinical relevance: Eight CpGs on LHX5, IL22RA2, SOX11, CBX4, ACPT, CFAP46, MUC4, and ATP1B2 genes have the potential to serve as candidate epigenetic biomarkers in newborns for asthma acquisition in females during adolescence or young adulthood.

Publication Title

Clinical and Experimental Allergy