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Genomics Inform. 2017 Mar;15(1):28-37. doi: 10.5808/GI.2017.15.1.28. Epub 2017 Mar 29.

DNA Methylation Profiles of Blood Cells Are Distinct between Early-Onset Obese and Control Individuals.

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Department of Medical Informatics, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul 06591, Korea.
Catholic Institute of U-Healthcare, Institute of Biomedical Industry, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul 06591, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul 06591, Korea.


Obesity is a highly prevalent, chronic disorder that has been increasing in incidence in young patients. Both epigenetic and genetic aberrations may play a role in the pathogenesis of obesity. Therefore, in-depth epigenomic and genomic analyses will advance our understanding of the detailed molecular mechanisms underlying obesity and aid in the selection of potential biomarkers for obesity in youth. Here, we performed microarray-based DNA methylation and gene expression profiling of peripheral white blood cells obtained from six young, obese individuals and six healthy controls. We observed that the hierarchical clustering of DNA methylation, but not gene expression, clearly segregates the obese individuals from the controls, suggesting that the metabolic disturbance that occurs as a result of obesity at a young age may affect the DNA methylation of peripheral blood cells without accompanying transcriptional changes. To examine the genome-wide differences in the DNA methylation profiles of young obese and control individuals, we identified differentially methylated CpG sites and investigated their genomic and epigenomic contexts. The aberrant DNA methylation patterns in obese individuals can be summarized as relative gains and losses of DNA methylation in gene promoters and gene bodies, respectively. We also observed that the CpG islands of obese individuals are more susceptible to DNA methylation compared to controls. Our pilot study suggests that the genome-wide aberrant DNA methylation patterns of obese individuals may advance not only our understanding of the epigenomic pathogenesis but also early screening of obesity in youth.


DNA methylation; genome-wide DNA methylation profiling; genome-wide gene expression profiling; obese children

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