Pooled analysis of epigenome-wide association studies of food consumption in KORA, TwinsUK and LLS

Fabian Hellbach, Lucy Sinke, Ricardo Costeira, Sebastian-Edgar Baumeister, Marian Beekman, Panayiotis Louca, Emily r. Leeming, Olatz Mompeo, Sarah Berry, Rory Wilson, Nina Wawro, Dennis Freuer, Hans Hauner, Annette Peters, Juliane Winkelmann, Wolfgang Koenig, Christa Meisinger, Melanie Waldenberger, Bastiaan t. Heijmans, P. eline SlagboomJordana t. Bell, Jakob Linseisen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Examining epigenetic patterns is a crucial step in identifying molecular changes of disease pathophysiology, with DNA methylation as the most accessible epigenetic measure. Diet is suggested to affect metabolism and health via epigenetic modifications. Thus, our aim was to explore the association between food consumption and DNA methylation. Methods: Epigenome-wide association studies were conducted in three cohorts: KORA FF4, TwinsUK, and Leiden Longevity Study, and 37 dietary exposures were evaluated. Food group definition was harmonized across the three cohorts. DNA methylation was measured using Infinium MethylationEPIC BeadChip in KORA and Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip in the Leiden study and the TwinsUK study. Overall, data from 2293 middle-aged men and women were included. A fixed-effects meta-analysis pooled study-specific estimates. The significance threshold was set at 0.05 for false-discovery rate-adjusted p values per food group. Results: We identified significant associations between the methylation level of CpG sites and the consumption of onions and garlic (2), nuts and seeds (18), milk (1), cream (11), plant oils (4), butter (13), and alcoholic beverages (27). The signals targeted genes of metabolic health relevance, for example, GLI1, RPTOR, and DIO1, among others. Conclusion: This EWAS is unique with its focus on food groups that are part of a Western diet. Significant findings were mostly related to food groups with a high-fat content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357-1375
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Early online date26 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


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