Epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation may influence gene expression and phenotypes, including obesity in childhood. The directionality of this relationship is nevertheless unclear, and some evidence suggests that adiposity modifies the epigenome, rather than the other way around. In this pilot study, we utilize data from the Early Life Exposures in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) study to examine whether measures of adiposity in childhood and early adolescence are associated with repeated measures of blood leukocyte DNA methylation at LINE-1 repetitive elements and two genes implicated in growth and adiposity: H19 and HSD11B2. Longitudinal epigenetic data were generated from cord blood and blood from follow-up visits in early and late adolescence. We assessed interactions between age and measures of body mass index (BMI) at 5 years of age and weight, BMI and waist circumference in early adolescence to infer whether adiposity deflects age-related DNA methylation changes throughout childhood. Applying linear mixed-effects models, we found an inverse association between measures of childhood BMI (kg/m2) and early-teen weight (kg) with repeat measures of H19 DNA methylation. We did not observe any statistically significant associations (p-value < .05) between any anthropometric measures and DNA methylation at LINE-1 or HSD11B2. We did not demonstrate statistically significant evidence in support of deflection of age-related DNA methylation trajectories by adiposity-related measures (age by adiposity interaction term). Given the pilot nature of this study, the relationships between repeat measures of DNA methylation and adiposity-measures across childhood merit further exploration in larger study populations.
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Wu, Yue; Montrose, Luke; Kochmanski, Joseph K.; Dolinoy, Dana C.; Téllez-Rojo, Martha M.; Cantoral, Alejandra; . . . and Goodrich, Jaclyn M. (2023). "Is Adiposity Related to Repeat Measures of Blood Leukocyte DNA Methylation Across Childhood and Adolescence?". Clinical Obesity, 13(2), e12566. https://doi.org/10.1111/cob.12566