• Race/ethnicity-associated blood DNA methylation differences between Japanese and European American women: an exploratory study

      Song, Min-Ae; Seffernick, Anna Eames; Archer, Kellie J; Mori, Kellie M; Park, Song-Yi; Chang, Linda; Ernst, Thomas; Tiirikainen, Maarit; Peplowska, Karolina; Wilkens, Lynne R; et al. (Springer Nature, 2021-10-11)
      Background: Racial/ethnic disparities in health reflect a combination of genetic and environmental causes, and DNA methylation may be an important mediator. We compared in an exploratory manner the blood DNA methylome of Japanese Americans (JPA) versus European Americans (EUA). Methods: Genome-wide buffy coat DNA methylation was profiled among healthy Multiethnic Cohort participant women who were Japanese (JPA; n = 30) or European (EUA; n = 28) Americans aged 60-65. Differentially methylated CpGs by race/ethnicity (DM-CpGs) were identified by linear regression (Bonferroni-corrected P < 0.1) and analyzed in relation to corresponding gene expression, a priori selected single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and blood biomarkers of inflammation and metabolism using Pearson or Spearman correlations (FDR < 0.1). Results: We identified 174 DM-CpGs with the majority of hypermethylated in JPA compared to EUA (n = 133), often in promoter regions (n = 48). Half (51%) of the genes corresponding to the DM-CpGs were involved in liver function and liver disease, and the methylation in nine genes was significantly correlated with gene expression for DM-CpGs. A total of 156 DM-CpGs were associated with rs7489665 (SH2B1). Methylation of DM-CpGs was correlated with blood levels of the cytokine MIP1B (n = 146). We confirmed some of the DM-CpGs in the TCGA adjacent non-tumor liver tissue of Asians versus EUA. Conclusion: We found a number of differentially methylated CpGs in blood DNA between JPA and EUA women with a potential link to liver disease, specific SNPs, and systemic inflammation. These findings may support further research on the role of DNA methylation in mediating some of the higher risk of liver disease among JPA.