Epigenome-wide association study for lifetime estrogen exposure identifies an epigenetic signature associated with breast cancer risk.
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BACKGROUND:It is well established that estrogens and other hormonal factors influence breast cancer susceptibility. We hypothesized that a woman's total lifetime estrogen exposure accumulates changes in DNA methylation, detectable in the blood, which could be used in risk assessment for breast cancer. METHODS:An estimated lifetime estrogen exposure (ELEE) model was defined using epidemiological data from EPIC-Italy (n = 31,864). An epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of ELEE was performed using existing Illumina HumanMethylation450K Beadchip (HM450K) methylation data obtained from EPIC-Italy blood DNA samples (n = 216). A methylation index (MI) of ELEE based on 31 CpG sites was developed using HM450K data from EPIC-Italy and the Generations Study and evaluated for association with breast cancer risk in an independent dataset from the Generations Study (n = 440 incident breast cancer cases matched to 440 healthy controls) using targeted bisulfite sequencing. Lastly, a meta-analysis was conducted including three additional cohorts, consisting of 1187 case-control pairs. RESULTS:We observed an estimated 5% increase in breast cancer risk per 1-year longer ELEE (OR = 1.05, 95% CI 1.04-1.07, P = 3 × 10-12) in EPIC-Italy. The EWAS identified 694 CpG sites associated with ELEE (FDR Q < 0.05). We report a DNA methylation index (MI) associated with breast cancer risk that is validated in the Generations Study targeted bisulfite sequencing data (ORQ4_vs_Q1 = 1.77, 95% CI 1.07-2.93, P = 0.027) and in the meta-analysis (ORQ4_vs_Q1 = 1.43, 95% CI 1.05-2.00, P = 0.024); however, the correlation between the MI and ELEE was not validated across study cohorts. CONCLUSION:We have identified a blood DNA methylation signature associated with breast cancer risk in this study. Further investigation is required to confirm the interaction between estrogen exposure and DNA methylation in the blood.
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Genetic Predisposition to Disease
Genome-Wide Association Study
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Clinical epigenetics, 2019, 11 (1), pp. 66 - ?