Psychological factors and DNA methylation of genes related to immune/inflammatory system markers: the VA Normative Aging Study
Spiro, Avron III
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CitationKim, Daniel, Laura D Kubzansky, Andrea Baccarelli, David Sparrow, Avron Spiro III, Letizia Tarantini, Laura Cantone, Pantel Vokonas, and Joel Schwartz. 2016. “Psychological Factors and DNA Methylation of Genes Related to Immune/Inflammatory System Markers: The VA Normative Aging Study.” BMJ Open 6 (1): e009790. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009790.
AbstractObjectives: Although psychological factors have been associated with chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease (CHD), the underlying pathways for these associations have yet to be elucidated. DNA methylation has been posited as a mechanism linking psychological factors to CHD risk. In a cohort of community-dwelling elderly men, we explored the associations between positive and negative psychological factors with DNA methylation in promoter regions of multiple genes involved in immune/ inflammatory processes related to atherosclerosis. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: Greater Boston, Massachusetts area. Participants: Samples of 538 to 669 men participating in the Normative Aging Study cohort with psychological measures and DNA methylation measures, collected on 1-4 visits between 1999 and 2006 (mean age=72.7 years at first visit). Outcome measures: We examined anxiety, depression, hostility and life satisfaction as predictors of leucocyte gene-specific DNA methylation. We estimated repeated measures linear mixed models, controlling for age, smoking, education, history of heart disease, stroke or diabetes, % lymphocytes, % monocytes and plasma folate. Results: Psychological distress measured by anxiety, depression and hostility was positively associated, and happiness and life satisfaction were inversely associated with average Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and coagulation factor III (F3) promoter methylation levels. There was some evidence that hostility was positively associated with toll-like receptor 2 (TLR-2) promoter methylation, and that life satisfaction was inversely associated with TLR-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) promoter methylation. We observed less consistent and significant associations between psychological factors and average methylation for promoters of the genes for glucocorticoid receptor (NR3C1), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). Conclusions: These findings suggest that positive and negative psychological factors affect DNA methylation of selected genes involved in chronic immune/inflammatory processes and inflammation-related endothelial dysfunction. Such epigenetic changes may represent biological pathways that mediate the effects of psychological factors on CHD.
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