Obesity related methylation changes in DNA of peripheral blood leukocytes

Xiaoling Wang, Haidong Zhu, Harold Snieder, Shaoyong Su, David Munn, Gregory A Harshfield, Bernard L. Maria, Yanbin Dong, Frank Treiber, Bernard Gutin, Huidong Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations


Background: Despite evidence linking obesity to impaired immune function, little is known about the specific mechanisms. Because of emerging evidence that immune responses are epigenetically regulated, we hypothesized that DNA methylation changes are involved in obesity induced immune dysfunction and aimed to identify these changes.Method: We conducted a genome wide methylation analysis on seven obese cases and seven lean controls aged 14 to 18 years from extreme ends of the obesity distribution and performed further validation of six CpG sites from six genes in 46 obese cases and 46 lean controls aged 14 to 30 years.Results: In comparison with the lean controls, we observed one CpG site in the UBASH3A gene showing higher methylation levels and one CpG site in the TRIM3 gene showing lower methylation levels in the obese cases in both the genome wide step (P = 5 × 10-6 and P = 2 × 10-5 for the UBASH3A and the TRIM3 gene respectively) and the validation step (P = 0.008 and P = 0.001 for the UBASH3A and the TRIM3 gene respectively).Conclusions: Our results provide evidence that obesity is associated with methylation changes in blood leukocyte DNA. Further studies are warranted to determine the causal direction of this relationship as well as whether such methylation changes can lead to immune dysfunction.See commentary: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/8/88/abstract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number87
JournalBMC Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 21 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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