Journal Articles

Publication Date





BACKGROUND: Identifying novel epigenetic signatures associated with serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) may improve our understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying asthma and IgE-mediated diseases.

METHODS: We performed an epigenome-wide association study using whole blood from Framingham Heart Study (FHS; n = 3,471, 46% females) participants and validated results using the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP; n = 674, 39% females) and the Genetic Epidemiology of Asthma in Costa Rica Study (CRA; n = 787, 41% females). Using the closest gene to each IgE-associated CpG, we highlighted biologically plausible pathways underlying IgE regulation and analyzed the transcription patterns linked to IgE-associated CpGs (expression quantitative trait methylation loci; eQTMs). Using prior UK Biobank summary data from genome-wide association studies of asthma and allergy, we performed Mendelian randomization (MR) for causal inference testing using the IgE-associated CpGs from FHS with methylation quantitative trait loci (mQTLs) as instrumental variables.

FINDINGS: We identified 490 statistically significant differentially methylated CpGs associated with IgE in FHS, of which 193 (39.3%) replicated in CAMP and CRA (FDR < 0.05). Gene ontology analysis revealed enrichment in pathways related to transcription factor binding, asthma, and other immunological processes. eQTM analysis identified 124 cis-eQTMs for 106 expressed genes (FDR < 0.05). MR in combination with drug-target analysis revealed CTSB and USP20 as putatively causal regulators of IgE levels (Bonferroni adjusted P < 7.94E-04) that can be explored as potential therapeutic targets.

INTERPRETATION: By integrating eQTM and MR analyses in general and clinical asthma populations, our findings provide a deeper understanding of the multidimensional inter-relations of DNA methylation, gene expression, and IgE levels.

FUNDING: US NIH/NHLBI grants: P01HL132825, K99HL159234. N01-HC-25195 and HHSN268201500001I.


Female, Humans, Child, Male, DNA Methylation, Epigenome, Genome-Wide Association Study, Asthma, Immunoglobulin E, Ubiquitin Thiolesterase

Included in

Public Health Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.