SYNCYTIAL VIRUS BRONCHIOLITIS
Lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) are a major cause of morbidity in children. DNA methylation provides a mechanism for transmitting environmental effects on the genome, but its potential role in LRTIs is not well studied. We investigated the methylation pattern of an enhancer region of the immune effector gene perforin-1 (PRF1), which encodes a cytolytic molecule of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and natural killer (NK) cells, in cord blood DNA of children recruited in a German birth cohort in association with LRTIs in the first year of life.
Pyrosequencing was used to determine the methylation levels of target cytosine-phosphate-guanines (CpGs) in a 2-stage case-control design. Cases were identified as children who developed 〉= 2 episodes of physician-recorded LRTIs during the first year of life and controls as children who had none. Discovery (n = 87) and replication (n = 90) sets were arranged in trios of 1 case and 2 controls matched for sex and season of birth.
Logistic regression analysis revealed higher levels of methylation at a CpG that corresponds to a signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) responsive enhancer in the discovery (odds ratio [OR] per 1% methylation difference 1.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.03-1.50) and replication (OR per 1% methylation difference 1.25, 95% CI 1.04-1.50) sets. Adjustment for having siblings 〈5 years old in the discovery and replication sets produced ORs of 1.19 (95% CI 0.98-1.45) and 1.25 (95% CI 1.04-1.50), respectively. Adjustment for gestational age in the replication set had no influence on the results. Methylation levels at adjacent CpGs varied with maternal age, smoking, education, and having siblings 〈5 years old.
Our data support an association between cord blood PRF1 enhancer methylation patterns and subsequent risk of LRTIs in infants. Methylation levels at specific CpGs of the PRF1 enhancer varied according to maternal and family environmental factors suggesting a role for DNA methylation in mediating environmental influences on gene function.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published