Olsson Lindvall M, Angerfors A, Andersson B, Nilsson S, Davila Lopez M, Hansson L, Stanne TM, Jern C
Thromb. Haemost. 121 (5) 573-583 [2021-05-00; online 2020-11-17]
DNA methylation has become increasingly recognized in the etiology of complex diseases, including thrombotic disorders. Blood is often collected in epidemiological studies for genotyping and has recently also been used to examine DNA methylation in epigenome-wide association studies. DNA methylation patterns are often tissue-specific, thus, peripheral blood may not accurately reflect the methylation pattern in the tissue of relevance. Here, we collected paired liver and blood samples concurrently from 27 individuals undergoing liver surgery. We performed targeted bisulfite sequencing for a set of 35 hemostatic genes primarily expressed in liver to analyze DNA methylation levels of >10,000 cytosine-phosphate-guanine (CpG) dinucleotides. We evaluated whether DNA methylation in blood could serve as a proxy for DNA methylation in liver at individual CpGs. Approximately 30% of CpGs were nonvariable and were predominantly hypo- (<25%) or hypermethylated (>70%) in both tissues. While blood can serve as a proxy for liver at these CpGs, the low variability renders these unlikely to explain phenotypic differences. We therefore focused on CpG sites with variable methylation levels in liver. The level of blood-liver tissue correlation varied widely across these variable CpGs; moderate correlations (0.5 ≤ r < 0.75) were detected for 6% and strong correlations (r ≥ 0.75) for a further 4%. Our findings indicate that it is essential to study the concordance of DNA methylation between blood and liver at individual CpGs. This paired blood-liver dataset is intended as a resource to aid interpretation of blood-based DNA methylation results.