The nasal methylome as a biomarker of asthma and airway inflammation in children

Nat Commun. 2019 Jul 12;10(1):3095. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11058-3.


The nasal cellular epigenome may serve as biomarker of airway disease and environmental response. Here we collect nasal swabs from the anterior nares of 547 children (mean-age 12.9 y), and measure DNA methylation (DNAm) with the Infinium MethylationEPIC BeadChip. We perform nasal Epigenome-Wide Association analyses (EWAS) of current asthma, allergen sensitization, allergic rhinitis, fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) and lung function. We find multiple differentially methylated CpGs (FDR < 0.05) and Regions (DMRs; ≥ 5-CpGs and FDR < 0.05) for asthma (285-CpGs), FeNO (8,372-CpGs; 191-DMRs), total IgE (3-CpGs; 3-DMRs), environment IgE (17-CpGs; 4-DMRs), allergic asthma (1,235-CpGs; 7-DMRs) and bronchodilator response (130-CpGs). Discovered DMRs annotated to genes implicated in allergic asthma, Th2 activation and eosinophilia (EPX, IL4, IL13) and genes previously associated with asthma and IgE in EWAS of blood (ACOT7, SLC25A25). Asthma, IgE and FeNO were associated with nasal epigenetic age acceleration. The nasal epigenome is a sensitive biomarker of asthma, allergy and airway inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Child
  • CpG Islands / genetics
  • CpG Islands / immunology
  • DNA Methylation / immunology*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / immunology
  • Epigenomics / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / diagnosis*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Male
  • Nasal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Nasal Mucosa / pathology


  • Biomarkers