Skip to main content
The effect of smoking on DNA methylation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from African American women
BMC Genomics
  • Meeshanthini V. Dogan, University of Iowa
  • Bridget Shields, University of Iowa
  • Carolyn E. Cutrona, Iowa State University
  • Long Gao, University of Iowa
  • Frederick X. Gibbons, University of Connecticut
  • Ronald Simons, University of Georgia
  • Martha Monick, University of Iowa
  • Gene H. Brody, University of Georgia
  • Kai Tan, University of Iowa
  • Steven R. H. Beach, University of Georgia
  • Robert A. Philibert, University of Iowa
Document Type
Publication Date
Background Regular smoking is associated with a wide variety of syndromes with prominent inflammatory components such as cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Heavy regular smoking is also associated with changes in the DNA methylation of peripheral mononuclear cells. However, in younger smokers, inflammatory epigenetic findings are largely absent which suggests the inflammatory response(s) to smoking may be dose dependent. To help understand whether peripheral mononuclear cells have a role in mediating these responses in older smokers with higher cumulative smoke exposure, we examined genome-wide DNA methylation in a group of well characterized adult African American subjects informative for smoking, as well as serum C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 receptor (IL6R) levels. In addition, complementary bioinformatic analyses were conducted to delineate possible pathways affected by long-term smoking. Results Genome-wide DNA methylation analysis with respect to smoking status yielded 910 significant loci after Benjamini-Hochberg correction. In particular, two loci from the AHRR gene (cg05575921 and cg23576855) and one locus from the GPR15 gene (cg19859270) were identified as highly significantly differentially methylated between smokers and non-smokers. The bioinformatic analyses showed that long-term chronic smoking is associated with altered promoter DNA methylation of genes coding for proteins mapping to critical sub-networks moderating inflammation, immune function, and coagulation. Conclusions We conclude that chronic regular smoking is associated with changes in peripheral mononuclear cell methylation signature which perturb inflammatory and immune function pathways and may contribute to increased vulnerability for complex illnesses with inflammatory components.

This article is from BMC Genomics 15 (2014): 151, doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-151.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.
Copyright Owner
Dogan et al
File Format
Citation Information
Meeshanthini V. Dogan, Bridget Shields, Carolyn E. Cutrona, Long Gao, et al.. "The effect of smoking on DNA methylation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from African American women" BMC Genomics Vol. 15 (2014) p. 151
Available at: