BACKGROUND: Exposure to violence (ETV) or chronic stress may influence asthma through unclear mechanisms.
METHODS: Epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of ETV or chronic stress measures and DNA methylation in nasal epithelium from 487 Puerto Ricans aged 9-20 years who participated in the Epigenetic Variation and Childhood Asthma in Puerto Ricans study [EVA-PR]). We assessed four measures of ETV and chronic stress in children (ETV scale, gun violence, and perceived stress) and their mothers (perceived stress). Each EWAS was conducted using linear regression, with CpGs as dependent variables and the stress/violence measure as a predictor, adjusting for age, sex, the top five principal components, and SVA latent factors. We then selected the top 100 CpGs (by p value) associated with each stress/violence measure in EVA-PR and conducted a meta-analysis of the selected CpGs and atopic asthma using data from EVA-PR and two additional cohorts (Project Viva and PIAMA).
RESULTS: Three CpGs (in SNN, PTPRN2, and LINC01164) were associated with maternal perceived stress or gun violence (p = 1.28-3.36 × 10-7 ), but not with atopic asthma, in EVA-PR. In a meta-analysis of three cohorts, which included the top CpGs associated with stress/violence measures in EVA-PR, 12 CpGs (in STARD3NL, SLC35F4, TSR3, CDC42SE2, KLHL25, PLCB1, BUD13, OR2B3, GALR1, TMEM196, TEAD4, and ANAPC13) were associated with atopic asthma at FDR-p < .05.
CONCLUSIONS: Pending confirmation in longitudinal studies, our findings suggest that nasal epithelial methylation markers associated with measures of ETV and chronic stress may be linked to atopic asthma in children and adolescents.