While DNA methylation plays a role in T-helper (Th) cell maturation, its potential dysregulation in the non-atopic Th1-polarized systemic inflammation observed in obesity-associated asthma is unknown. We studied DNA methylation epigenome-wide in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 8 obese asthmatic pre-adolescent children and compared it to methylation in PBMCs from 8 children with asthma alone, obesity alone and healthy controls. Differentially methylated loci implicated certain biologically relevant molecules and pathways. PBMCs from obese asthmatic children had distinctive DNA methylation patterns, with decreased promoter methylation of CCL5, IL2RA and TBX21, genes encoding proteins linked with Th1 polarization, and increased promoter methylation of FCER2, a low-affinity receptor for IgE, and of TGFB1, inhibitor of Th cell activation. T-cell signaling and macrophage activation were the two primary pathways that were selectively hypomethylated in obese asthmatics. These findings suggest that dysregulated DNA methylation is associated with non-atopic inflammation observed in pediatric obesity-associated asthma.
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