Associations Between High Blood Pressure and DNA Methylation

Nabila Kazmi, Hannah R Elliott, Kim Burrows, Therese Tillin, Alun D Hughes, Nishi Chaturvedi, Tom R Gaunt, Caroline L Relton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


Background: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. Epigenetic processes including DNA methylation potentially mediate the relationship between genetic factors, the environment and cardiovascular disease. Despite an increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease in individuals of South Asians compared to Europeans, it is not clear whether associations between blood pressure and DNA methylation differ between these groups.

Methods: We performed an epigenome-wide association study and differentially methylated region (DMR) analysis to identify DNA methylation sites and regions that were associated with systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and hypertension. We analyzed samples from 364 European and 348 South Asian men (first generation migrants to the UK) from the Southall And Brent REvisited cohort, measuring DNA methylation from blood using the Illumina Infinium® HumanMethylation450 BeadChip.

Results: One CpG site was found to be associated with DBP in trans-ancestry analyses (i.e. both ethnic groups combined), while in Europeans alone seven CpG sites were associated with DBP. No associations were identified between DNA methylation and either SBP or hypertension. Comparison of effect sizes between South Asian and European EWAS for DBP, SBP and hypertension revealed little concordance between analyses. DMR analysis identified several regions with known relationships with CVD and its risk factors.

Conclusion: This study identified differentially methylated sites and regions associated with blood pressure and revealed ethnic differences in these associations. These findings may point to molecular pathways which may explain the elevated cardiovascular disease risk experienced by those of South Asian ancestry when compared to Europeans.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2020


  • cardiovascular disease
  • DNA methylation
  • epigenetics
  • hypertension and trans-ancestry

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