Nasal cell DNA methylation, inflammation, lung function and wheezing in children with asthma

Andrea Baccarelli*, Franca Rusconi, Valentina Bollati, Dolores Catelan, Gabriele Accetta, Lifang Hou, Fabio Barbone, Pier Alberto Bertazzi, Annibale Biggeri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Aims: DNA methylation is increasingly proposed as a mechanism for underlying asthma-related inflammation. However, epigenetic studies are constrained by uncertainties on whether samples that can be easily collected in human individuals can provide informative results. Methods: Two nasal cell DNA samples were collected on different days by nasal brushings from 35 asthmatic children aged between 8 and 11 years old. We correlated DNA methylation of IL-6, iNOS, Alu and LINE-1 with fractional exhaled nitric oxide, forced expiratory volume in 1 s and wheezing. Results: Fractional exhaled nitric oxide increased in association with lower promoter methylation of both IL-6 (+29.0%; p = 0.004) and iNOS (+41.0%; p = 0.002). Lower IL-6 methylation was nonsignificantly associated with wheezing during the week of the study (odds ratio = 2.3; p = 0.063). Conclusion: Our findings support the use of nasal cell DNA for human epigenetic studies of asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • DNA methylation
  • airway obstruction
  • asthma
  • children
  • epigenetics
  • inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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