Background: The discovery of robust and trans-ethnically replicated DNA methylation markers of metabolic phenotypes, has hinted at a potential role of epigenetic mechanisms in lipid metabolism. However, DNA methylation and the lipid compositions and lipid concentrations of lipoprotein sizes have been scarcely studied. Here, we present an epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) (N = 5414 total) of mostly lipid-related metabolic measures, including a fine profiling of lipoproteins. As lipoproteins are the main players in the different stages of lipid metabolism, examination of epigenetic markers of detailed lipoprotein features might improve the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of metabolic disturbances. Results: We conducted an EWAS of leukocyte DNA methylation and 226 metabolic measurements determined by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the population-based KORA F4 study (N = 1662) and replicated the results in the LOLIPOP, NFBC1966, and YFS cohorts (N = 3752). Follow-up analyses in the discovery cohort included investigations into gene transcripts, metabolic-measure ratios for pathway analysis, and disease endpoints. We identified 161 associations (p value < 4.7 × 10−10), covering 16 CpG sites at 11 loci and 57 metabolic measures. Identified metabolic measures were primarily medium and small lipoproteins, and fatty acids. For apolipoprotein B-containing lipoproteins, the associations mainly involved triglyceride composition and concentrations of cholesterol esters, triglycerides, free cholesterol, and phospholipids. All associations for HDL lipoproteins involved triglyceride measures only. Associated metabolic measure ratios, proxies of enzymatic activity, highlight amino acid, glucose, and lipid pathways as being potentially epigenetically implicated. Five CpG sites in four genes were associated with differential expression of transcripts in blood or adipose tissue. CpG sites in ABCG1 and PHGDH showed associations with metabolic measures, gene transcription, and metabolic measure ratios and were additionally linked to obesity or previous myocardial infarction, extending previously reported observations. Conclusion: Our study provides evidence of a link between DNA methylation and the lipid compositions and lipid concentrations of different lipoprotein size subclasses, thus offering in-depth insights into well-known associations of DNA methylation with total serum lipids. The results support detailed profiling of lipid metabolism to improve the molecular understanding of dyslipidemia and related disease mechanisms.
FörderungenNational Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Joint Programming Initiative A healthy diet for a healthy life () Academy of Finland (FI) EU Horizon 2020 Competitive State Research Financing of the Expert Responsibility area of Kuopio, Tampere and Turku University Hospitals Singapore Ministry of Health's National Medical Research Council Department of Health Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen - German Research Center for Environmental Health - German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) German Federal Ministry of Education and Research to the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) Ministry of Science and Culture of the State North Rhine-Westphalia German Federal Ministry of Health German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of the EU Joint Programming Initiative "A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life" German Research Foundation Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat, as part of LMUinnovativ Munich Center of Health Sciences (MC-Health) State of Bavaria Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DE) National Institute for Health Research British Heart Foundation Medical Research Council European Union FP7 H2020 programs
Singapore Ministry of Health's National Medical Research Council under its Singapore Translational Research Investigator (STaR) Award Finnish Cultural Foundation Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular research Paavo Nurmi Foundation Juho Vainio Foundation Competitive State Research Financing of the Expert Responsibility area of Kuopio, Tampere, and Turku University Hospitals Social Insurance Institution of Finland Sigrid Juselius Foundation Tampere Tuberculosis Foundation Emil Aaltonen Foundation Sigrid Juselius Foundation, Finland Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACyT)Mexico JPI-HDHL program Tampere University Hospital Supporting Foundation European Research Council Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation Diabetes Research Foundation of Finnish Diabetes Association Yrjo Jahnsson Foundation NIHR Official Development Assistance (ODA) NIHR Academy of Finland European Union Wellcome Trust