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DNA methylation signatures associated with cardiometabolic risk factors in children from India and The Gambia: results from the EMPHASIS study

  • Antoun, Elie1
  • Issarapu, Prachand2
  • di Gravio, Chiara1
  • Shrestha, Smeeta2, 3
  • Betts, Modupeh4
  • Saffari, Ayden5
  • Sahariah, Sirazul A.6
  • Sankareswaran, Alagu2
  • Arumalla, Manisha2
  • Prentice, Andrew M.4
  • Fall, Caroline H. D.1
  • Silver, Matt J.5
  • Chandak, Giriraj R.2
  • Lillycrop, Karen A.1, 1
  • Kehoe, Sarah
  • Kumaran, Kalyanaraman
  • Potdar, Ramesh D.
  • Sajjadi, Sara
  • Nongmaithem, Suraj
  • Chopra, Harsha
  • And 5 more
  • 1 University of Southampton, Southampton, UK , Southampton (United Kingdom)
  • 2 CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India , Hyderabad (India)
  • 3 Dayananda Sagar University, Bangalore, India , Bangalore (India)
  • 4 MRC Unit The Gambia at the London, School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Fajara, The Gambia , Fajara (Gambia)
  • 5 MRC Unit The Gambia at the London, School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK , London (United Kingdom)
  • 6 Centre for the Study of Social Change, Mumbai, India , Mumbai (India)
Published Article
Clinical Epigenetics
Publication Date
Jan 09, 2022
DOI: 10.1186/s13148-021-01213-3
Springer Nature
  • Cardiovascular epigenetics


BackgroundThe prevalence of cardiometabolic disease (CMD) is rising globally, with environmentally induced epigenetic changes suggested to play a role. Few studies have investigated epigenetic associations with CMD risk factors in children from low- and middle-income countries. We sought to identify associations between DNA methylation (DNAm) and CMD risk factors in children from India and The Gambia.ResultsUsing the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation 850 K Beadchip array, we interrogated DNAm in 293 Gambian (7–9 years) and 698 Indian (5–7 years) children. We identified differentially methylated CpGs (dmCpGs) associated with systolic blood pressure, fasting insulin, triglycerides and LDL-Cholesterol in the Gambian children; and with insulin sensitivity, insulinogenic index and HDL-Cholesterol in the Indian children. There was no overlap of the dmCpGs between the cohorts. Meta-analysis identified dmCpGs associated with insulin secretion and pulse pressure that were different from cohort-specific dmCpGs. Several differentially methylated regions were associated with diastolic blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and fasting glucose, but these did not overlap with the dmCpGs. We identified significant cis-methQTLs at three LDL-Cholesterol-associated dmCpGs in Gambians; however, methylation did not mediate genotype effects on the CMD outcomes.ConclusionThis study identified cardiometabolic biomarkers associated with differential DNAm in Indian and Gambian children. Most associations were cohort specific, potentially reflecting environmental and ethnic differences.

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