Publication Abstract

Authors: Hair BY, Xu Z, Kirk EL, Harlid S, Sandhu R, Robinson WR, Wu MC, Olshan AF, Conway K, Taylor JA, Troester MA

Title: Body mass index associated with genome-wide methylation in breast tissue.

Journal: Breast Cancer Res Treat 151(2):453-63

Date: 2015 Jun

Abstract: Gene expression studies indicate that body mass index (BMI) is associated with molecular pathways involved in inflammation, insulin-like growth factor activation, and other carcinogenic processes in breast tissue. The goal of this study was to determine whether BMI is associated with gene methylation in breast tissue and to identify pathways that are commonly methylated in association with high BMI. Epigenome-wide methylation profiles were determined using the Illumina HumanMethylation450 BeadChip array in the non-diseased breast tissue of 81 women undergoing breast surgery between 2009 and 2013 at the University of North Carolina Hospitals. Multivariable, robust linear regression was performed to identify methylation sites associated with BMI at a false discovery rate q value <0.05. Gene expression microarray data was used to identify which of the BMI-associated methylation sites also showed correlation with gene expression. Gene set enrichment analysis was conducted to assess which pathways were enriched among the BMI-associated methylation sites. Of the 431,568 methylation sites analyzed, 2573 were associated with BMI (q value <0.05), 57 % of which showed an inverse correlation with BMI. Pathways enriched among the 2573 probe sites included those involved in inflammation, insulin receptor signaling, and leptin signaling. We were able to map 1251 of the BMI-associated methylation sites to gene expression data, and, of these, 226 (18 %) showed substantial correlations with gene expression. Our results suggest that BMI is associated with genome-wide methylation in non-diseased breast tissue and may influence epigenetic pathways involved in inflammatory and other carcinogenic processes.