Genome-wide DNA methylation differences in nucleus accumbens of smokers vs. nonsmokers
Christina A Markunas,
Stephen A. Semick,
Laura J Bierut,
Thomas M. Hyde,
Joel E Kleinman,
Eric O Johnson,
Andrew E. Jaffe,
Dana B Hancock
Posted 25 Sep 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/781542 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41386-020-0782-0)
Posted 25 Sep 2019
Numerous DNA methylation (DNAm) biomarkers of cigarette smoking have been identified in peripheral blood studies, but their relevance as neurobiological indicators is unknown due to DNAm tissue-specificity. In contrast, blood-based studies may not detect brain-specific smoking-related DNAm differences that may provide greater insight into the neurobiology of smoking behaviors. We report the first epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of smoking in human postmortem brain, focusing on nucleus accumbens (NAc) as a key brain region in developing addiction. Following Illumina HumanMethylation EPIC array data generation and quality control, 221 decedents (120 European American [23% current smokers], 101 African American [26% current smokers]) were analyzed. DNAm by smoking (current vs. nonsmoking) was tested using robust linear regression models adjusted for age, sex, cell-type proportion, DNAm-derived negative control principal components (PCs), and genotype-derived PCs. Separate ancestry-specific results were combined via meta-analysis, resulting in 7 CpGs that exceeded false discovery rate (FDR)<0.05. Using published smoking EWAS results in blood, we extended our NAc findings to identify DNAm smoking effects that are unique (tissue-specific) versus shared between tissues (tissue-shared). Of the 7 CpGs identified in NAc, 3 CpGs were located near genes previously indicated with blood-based smoking DNAm biomarkers: ZIC1 , ZCCHC24 , and PRKDC . The other 4 CpGs are novel for smoking-related DNAm changes: ABLIM3 , APCDD1L , MTMR6 and CTCF . Our results provide the first evidence for smoking-related DNAm changes in human NAc, highlighting CpGs that were previously undetected as peripheral biomarkers and may reflect brain-specific processes.
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