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Epigenetic Markers Correlate With Allergic Rhinitis Severity

Potential markers identified may be future therapeutic targets for allergic rhinitis

sneezing into tissue

FRIDAY, Aug. 4, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Participants with grass pollen-induced allergic rhinitis undergo epigenetic changes within three hours of exposure to grass pollen, according to a study published online July 29 in Allergy.

Michelle L. North, Ph.D., from Queen's University in Kingston, Canada, and colleagues examined genome-wide epigenetic changes among 38 allergy suffers and eight controls exposed to grass pollen for three hours on two consecutive days. The Infinium Methylation 450K array assessed DNA methylation at baseline and at three hours in peripheral blood.

The researchers found that there were 42 sites that showed significant DNA methylation changes of ≥2 percent. Pyrosequencing validated DNA methylation changes in tryptase gamma 1 (TPSG1), schlafen 12 (SLFN12), and mucin 4 (MUC4) in response to exposure. Symptoms significantly correlated with SLFN12 DNA methylation (P < 0.05), and the baseline DNA methylation pattern was predictive of symptom severity upon grass allergen exposure (P < 0.05). In a separate validation cohort, changes in MUC4 DNA methylation in nasal brushings correlated with drop in peak nasal inspiratory flow (P = 0.034), and MUC4 gene expression was significantly increased (P < 0.0001).

"In conclusion, this study demonstrated that participants with grass pollen-induced allergic rhinitis undergo epigenetic changes within three hours upon exposure to grass pollen," the authors write. "This study also highlights the possibility that epigenetic changes in the blood may be indicative of similar modifications in target tissues, and that preexisting epigenetic marks, potentially due to environmental exposures, may have effects on subsequent responses to allergen."

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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