Sleep duration and fragmentation in relation to leukocyte DNA methylation in adolescents

Erica C. Jansen, Dana C. Dolinoy, Louise M. O'Brien, Karen E. Peterson*, Ronald D. Chervin, Margaret Banker, Martha María Téllez-Rojo, Alejandra Cantoral, Adriana Mercado-Garcia, Brisa Sanchez, Jaclyn M. Goodrich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Sleep deprivation and low sleep quality are widespread among adolescents, and associate with obesity risk. Plausible mediators include diet and physical activity. Another potential interrelated pathway, as yet unexplored in adolescents, could involve epigenetic modification of metabolism genes. Methods: In a cohort of 351 Mexico City adolescents (47% male; mean [SD] age = 14 [2] years), 7-day actigraphy was used to assess average sleep duration, sleep fragmentation, and movement index. DNA isolated from blood leukocytes was bisulfite-converted, amplified, and pyrosequenced at four candidate regions. Linear mixed models evaluated sex-stratified associations between sleep characteristics (split into quartiles [Q]) and DNA methylation of each region, adjusted for potential confounders. Results: Mean sleep duration was 8.5 [0.8] hours for boys and 8.7 [1] hours for girls. There were sex-specific associations between sleep duration and LINE-1 (long interspersed nuclear element) methylation. Boys with longer sleep duration (Q4) had lower LINE-1 methylation than boys in the 3rd quartile reference category, while girls with both longer and shorter sleep duration had higher LINE-1 methylation compared to Q3. Longer sleep duration was associated with higher H19 methylation among girls (comparing highest to third quartile, -0.9% [-2.2, 0.5]; p, trend = 0.047). Sleep fragmentation was inversely associated with peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARA) methylation among girls (comparing highest to lowest fragmentation quartile, 0.9% [0.1 to 1.8]). Girls also showed an inverse association between sleep fragmentation and hydroxysteroid (11-beta) dehydrogenase 2 (HSD11B2; Q4 to Q1, 0.6% [-1.2%, 0%]). Conclusions: Sleep duration and fragmentation in adolescents show sex-specific associations with leukocyte DNA methylation patterns of metabolism genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberzsz121
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 6 2019


  • actigraphy
  • cardiometabolic
  • epigenetics
  • genes
  • metabolism
  • sleep quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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