Genome-wide DNA methylation profiling after Ayurveda intervention to bronchial asthmatics identifies differential methylation in several transcription factors with immune process related function

J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2023 Mar-Apr;14(2):100692. doi: 10.1016/j.jaim.2023.100692. Epub 2023 Apr 3.


Background: The Indian traditional medicinal system, Ayurveda, describes several lifestyle practices, processes and medicines as an intervention to treat asthma. Rasayana therapy is one of them and although these treatment modules show improvement in bronchial asthma, their mechanism of action, particularly the effect on DNA methylation, is largely understudied.

Objectives: Our study aimed at identifying the contribution of DNA methylation changes in modulating bronchial asthma phenotype upon Ayurveda intervention.

Materials and methods: In this study, genome-wide methylation profiling in peripheral blood DNA of healthy controls and bronchial asthmatics before (BT) and after (AT) Ayurveda treatment was performed using array-based profiling of reference-independent methylation status (aPRIMES) coupled to microarray technique.

Results: We identified 4820 treatment-associated DNA methylation signatures (TADS) and 11,643 asthma-associated DNA methylation signatures (AADS), differentially methylated [FDR (≤0.1) adjusted p-values] in AT and HC groups respectively, compared to BT group. Neurotrophin TRK receptor signaling pathway was significantly enriched for differentially methylated genes in bronchial asthmatics, compared to AT and HC subjects. Additionally, we identified over 100 differentially methylated immune-related genes located in the promoter/5'-UTR regions of TADS and AADS. Various immediate-early response and immune regulatory genes with functions such as transcription factor activity (FOXD1, FOXD2, GATA6, HOXA3, HOXA5, MZF1, NFATC1, NKX2-2, NKX2-3, RUNX1, KLF11), G-protein coupled receptor activity (CXCR4, PTGER4), G-protein coupled receptor binding (UCN), DNA binding (JARID2, EBF2, SOX9), SNARE binding (CAPN10), transmembrane signaling receptor activity (GP1BB), integrin binding (ITGA6), calcium ion binding (PCDHGA12), actin binding (TRPM7, PANX1, TPM1), receptor tyrosine kinase binding (PIK3R2), receptor activity (GDNF), histone methyltransferase activity (MLL5), and catalytic activity (TSTA3) were found to show consistent methylation status between AT and HC group in microarray data.

Conclusions: Our study reports the DNA methylation-regulated genes in bronchial asthmatics showing improvement in symptoms after Ayurveda intervention. DNA methylation regulation in the identified genes and pathways represents the Ayurveda intervention responsive genes and may be further explored as diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic biomarkers for bronchial asthma in peripheral blood.

Keywords: Asthma; Ayurveda; DNA methylation; Immunomodulation; aPRIMES.