Genetic research regarding blood lipids has largely focused on DNA sequence variation; few studies have explored epigenetic effects. Genome-wide surveys of DNA methylation may uncover epigenetic factors influencing lipid metabolism. To identify whether differential methylation of cytosine-guanine dinucleotides (CpGs) correlated with lipid phenotypes, Dr. M. Ryan Irvin, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, recently isolated DNA from CD4+ T-cells and quantified proportion of sample methylation at over 450,000 CpGs, using the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation450 Beadchip in 991 participants of the Genetics of Lipid Lowering Drugs and Diet Network (GOLDN). Co-investigators include department colleagues Dr. Stella Aslibekyan, assistant professor; Mr. Steven A. Claas, program manager; and Dr. Donna K. Arnett, chair and professor; along with Dr. Degui Zhi, assistant professor, and Dr. Hemant K. Tiwari, professor, in the department of biostatistics.
[Photo: Dr. M. Ryan Irvin]
The researchers concluded that this genome-wide epigenomic study identified CPT1A methylation as strongly and robustly associated with fasting VLDL-C and TG. Identifying novel epigenetic contributions to lipid traits may inform future efforts to identify new treatment targets and/or biomarkers of disease risk. “Epigenome-Wide Association Study of Fasting Blood Lipids in the Genetics of Lipid Lowering Drugs and Diet Network Study” was published in June in the journal Circulation.