• Differential DNA methylation in bronchial biopsies between persistent asthma and asthma in remission.

      Vermeulen, Cornelis J; Xu, Cheng-Jian; Vonk, Judith M; Ten Hacken, Nick H T; Timens, Wim; Heijink, Irene H; Nawijn, Martijn C; Boekhoudt, Jeunard; van Oosterhout, Antoon J; Affleck, Karen; et al. (2020-02-06)
      Approximately 40% of asthmatics experience remission of asthma symptoms. A better understanding of biological pathways leading to asthma remission may provide insight into new therapeutic targets for asthma. As an important mechanism of gene regulation, investigation of DNA methylation provides a promising approach. Our objective was to identify differences in epigenome wide DNA methylation levels in bronchial biopsies between subjects with asthma remission and subjects with persistent asthma or healthy controls.We analysed differential DNA methylation in bronchial biopsies from 26 subjects with persistent asthma, 39 remission subjects and 70 healthy controls, using the limma package. The comb-p tool was used to identify differentially methylated regions. DNA methylation of CpG-sites was associated to expression of nearby genes from the same biopsies to understand function.Four CpG-sites and 42 regions were differentially methylated between persistent asthma and remission. DNA methylation at two sites was correlated i n cis with gene expression at ACKR2 and DGKQ Between remission subjects and healthy controls 1163 CpG-sites and 328 regions were differentially methylated. DNA methylation was associated with expression of a set of genes expressed in ciliated epithelium.CpGs differentially methylated between remission and persistent asthma identify genetic loci associated with resolution of inflammation and airway responsiveness. Despite the absence of symptoms, remission subjects have a DNA methylation profile that is distinct from that of healthy controls, partly due to changes in cellular composition, with a higher gene expression signal related to ciliated epithelium in remission versus healthy controls.
    • Epigenome-wide association study identifies DNA methylation markers for asthma remission in whole blood and nasal epithelium.

      Qi, Cancan; Vonk, Judith M; van der Plaat, Diana A; Nieuwenhuis, Maartje A E; Dijk, F Nicole; Aïssi, Dylan; Siroux, Valérie; Boezen, H Marike; Xu, Cheng-Jian; Koppelman, Gerard H; et al. (BMC, 2020-12-11)
      Background: Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease which is not curable, yet some patients experience spontaneous remission. We hypothesized that epigenetic mechanisms may be involved in asthma remission. Methods: Clinical remission (ClinR) was defined as the absence of asthma symptoms and medication for at least 12 months, and complete remission (ComR) was defined as ClinR with normal lung function and absence of airway hyperresponsiveness. We analyzed differential DNA methylation of ClinR and ComR comparing to persistent asthma (PersA) in whole blood samples (n = 72) and nasal brushing samples (n = 97) in a longitudinal cohort of well characterized asthma patients. Significant findings of whole blood DNA methylation were tested for replication in two independent cohorts, Lifelines and Epidemiological study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma (EGEA). Results: We identified differentially methylated CpG sites associated with ClinR (7 CpG sites) and ComR (129 CpG sites) in whole blood. One CpG (cg13378519, Chr1) associated with ClinR was replicated and annotated to PEX11 (Peroxisomal Biogenesis Factor 11 Beta). The whole blood DNA methylation levels of this CpG were also different between ClinR and healthy subjects. One ComR-associated CpG (cg24788483, Chr10) that annotated to TCF7L2 (Transcription Factor 7 Like 2) was replicated and associated with expression of TCF7L2 gene. One out of seven ClinR-associated CpG sites and 8 out of 129 ComR-associated CpG sites identified from whole blood samples showed nominal significance (P < 0.05) and the same direction of effect in nasal brushes. Conclusion: We identified DNA methylation markers possibly associated with clinical and complete asthma remission in nasal brushes and whole blood, and two CpG sites identified from whole blood can be replicated in independent cohorts and may play a role in peroxisome proliferation and Wnt signaling pathway.
    • Evolution of cytokine production capacity in ancient and modern European populations.

      Domínguez-Andrés, Jorge; Kuijpers, Yunus; Bakker, Olivier B; Jaeger, Martin; Xu, Cheng-Jian; Van der Meer, Jos Wm; Jakobsson, Mattias; Bertranpetit, Jaume; Joosten, Leo Ab; Li, Yang; et al. (eLife Sciences Publications, 2021-09-07)
      As our ancestors migrated throughout different continents, natural selection increased the presence of alleles advantageous in the new environments. Heritable variations that alter the susceptibility to diseases vary with the historical period, the virulence of the infections, and their geographical spread. In this study we built polygenic scores for heritable traits that influence the genetic adaptation in the production of cytokines and immune-mediated disorders, including infectious, inflammatory, and autoimmune diseases, and applied them to the genomes of several ancient European populations. We observed that the advent of the Neolithic was a turning point for immune-mediated traits in Europeans, favoring those alleles linked with the development of tolerance against intracellular pathogens and promoting inflammatory responses against extracellular microbes. These evolutionary patterns are also associated with an increased presence of traits related to inflammatory and auto-immune diseases.
    • Integration of metabolomics, genomics, and immune phenotypes reveals the causal roles of metabolites in disease.

      Chu, Xiaojing; Jaeger, Martin; Beumer, Joep; Bakker, Olivier B; Aguirre-Gamboa, Raul; Oosting, Marije; Smeekens, Sanne P; Moorlag, Simone; Mourits, Vera P; Koeken, Valerie A C M; et al. (BMC, 2021-07-06)
      Background: Recent studies highlight the role of metabolites in immune diseases, but it remains unknown how much of this effect is driven by genetic and non-genetic host factors. Result: We systematically investigate circulating metabolites in a cohort of 500 healthy subjects (500FG) in whom immune function and activity are deeply measured and whose genetics are profiled. Our data reveal that several major metabolic pathways, including the alanine/glutamate pathway and the arachidonic acid pathway, have a strong impact on cytokine production in response to ex vivo stimulation. We also examine the genetic regulation of metabolites associated with immune phenotypes through genome-wide association analysis and identify 29 significant loci, including eight novel independent loci. Of these, one locus (rs174584-FADS2) associated with arachidonic acid metabolism is causally associated with Crohn's disease, suggesting it is a potential therapeutic target. Conclusion: This study provides a comprehensive map of the integration between the blood metabolome and immune phenotypes, reveals novel genetic factors that regulate blood metabolite concentrations, and proposes an integrative approach for identifying new disease treatment targets.
    • IRF7 and RNH1 are modifying factors of HIV-1 reservoirs: a genome-wide association analysis.

      Zhang, Zhenhua; Trypsteen, Wim; Blaauw, Marc; Chu, Xiaojing; Rutsaert, Sofie; Vandekerckhove, Linos; van der Heijden, Wouter; Dos Santos, Jéssica Cristina; Xu, Cheng-Jian; Swertz, Morris A; et al. (BMC, 2021-11-16)
      The analysis resulted in one significant association with CA HIV-1 DNA (rs2613996, P < 5 × 10-8) and two suggestive associations with RNA:DNA ratio (rs7113204 and rs7817589, P < 5 × 10-7). Then, we prioritized PTDSS2, IRF7, RNH1, and DEAF1 as potential HIV-1 reservoir modifiers and validated that higher expressions of IRF7 and RNH1 were accompanied by rs7113204-G. Moreover, RNA:DNA ratio, indicating relative HIV-1 transcription activity, was lower in PLHIV carrying this variant.
    • Residential PM exposure and the nasal methylome in children.

      Sordillo, Joanne E; Cardenas, Andres; Qi, Cancan; Rifas-Shiman, Sheryl L; Coull, Brent; Luttmann-Gibson, Heike; Schwartz, Joel; Kloog, Itai; Hivert, Marie-France; DeMeo, Dawn L; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-04-16)
      Rationale: PM2.5-induced adverse effects on respiratory health may be driven by epigenetic modifications in airway cells. The potential impact of exposure duration on epigenetic alterations in the airways is not yet known. Objectives: We aimed to study associations of fine particulate matter PM2.5 exposure with DNA methylation in nasal cells. Methods: We conducted nasal epigenome-wide association analyses within 503 children from Project Viva (mean age 12.9 y), and examined various exposure durations (1-day, 1-week, 1-month, 3-months and 1-year) prior to nasal sampling. We used residential addresses to estimate average daily PM2.5 at 1 km resolution. We collected nasal swabs from the anterior nares and measured DNA methylation (DNAm) using the Illumina MethylationEPIC BeadChip. We tested 719,075 high quality autosomal CpGs using CpG-by-CpG and regional DNAm analyses controlling for multiple comparisons, and adjusted for maternal education, household smokers, child sex, race/ethnicity, BMI z-score, age, season at sample collection and cell-type heterogeneity. We further corrected for bias and genomic inflation. We tested for replication in a cohort from the Netherlands (PIAMA). Results: In adjusted analyses, we found 362 CpGs associated with 1-year PM2.5 (FDR < 0.05), 20 CpGs passing Bonferroni correction (P < 7.0x10-8) and 10 Differentially Methylated Regions (DMRs). In 445 PIAMA participants (mean age 16.3 years) 11 of 203 available CpGs replicated at P < 0.05. We observed differential DNAm at/near genes implicated in cell cycle, immune and inflammatory responses. There were no CpGs or regions associated with PM2.5 levels at 1-day, 1-week, or 1-month prior to sample collection, although 2 CpGs were associated with past 3-month PM2.5. Conclusion: We observed wide-spread DNAm variability associated with average past year PM2.5 exposure but we did not detect associations with shorter-term exposure. Our results suggest that nasal DNAm marks reflect chronic air pollution exposure.
    • Severe COVID-19 Is Marked by a Dysregulated Myeloid Cell Compartment.

      Schulte-Schrepping, Jonas; Reusch, Nico; Paclik, Daniela; Baßler, Kevin; Schlickeiser, Stephan; Zhang, Bowen; Krämer, Benjamin; Krammer, Tobias; Brumhard, Sophia; Bonaguro, Lorenzo; et al. (Elsevier /Cell Press), 2020-08-05)
      Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a mild to moderate respiratory tract infection, however, a subset of patients progress to severe disease and respiratory failure. The mechanism of protective immunity in mild forms and the pathogenesis of severe COVID-19 associated with increased neutrophil counts and dysregulated immune responses remain unclear. In a dual-center, two-cohort study, we combined single-cell RNA-sequencing and single-cell proteomics of whole-blood and peripheral-blood mononuclear cells to determine changes in immune cell composition and activation in mild versus severe COVID-19 (242 samples from 109 individuals) over time. HLA-DRhiCD11chi inflammatory monocytes with an interferon-stimulated gene signature were elevated in mild COVID-19. Severe COVID-19 was marked by occurrence of neutrophil precursors, as evidence of emergency myelopoiesis, dysfunctional mature neutrophils, and HLA-DRlo monocytes. Our study provides detailed insights into the systemic immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection and reveals profound alterations in the myeloid cell compartment associated with severe COVID-19.