Background: Fibrinogen plays an essential role in blood coagulation and inflammation. Circulating fibrinogen levels may be determined based on interindividual differences in DNA methylation at cytosine-phosphate-guanine (CpG) sites and vice versa. Objectives: To perform an EWAS to examine an association between blood DNA methylation levels and circulating fibrinogen levels to better understand its biological and pathophysiological actions. Methods: We performed an epigenome-wide association study of circulating fibrinogen levels in 18 037 White, Black, American Indian, and Hispanic participants, representing 14 studies from the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology consortium. Circulating leukocyte DNA methylation was measured using the Illumina 450K array in 12 904 participants and using the EPIC array in 5133 participants. In each study, an epigenome-wide association study of fibrinogen was performed using linear mixed models adjusted for potential confounders. Study-specific results were combined using array-specific meta-analysis, followed by cross-replication of epigenome-wide significant associations. We compared models with and without CRP adjustment to examine the role of inflammation. Results: We identified 208 and 87 significant CpG sites associated with fibrinogen levels from the 450K (p < 1.03 × 10-7) and EPIC arrays (p < 5.78 × 10-8), respectively. There were 78 associations from the 450K array that replicated in the EPIC array and 26 vice versa. After accounting for overlapping sites, there were 83 replicated CpG sites located in 61 loci, of which only 4 have been previously reported for fibrinogen. The examples of genes located near these CpG sites were SOCS3 and AIM2, which are involved in inflammatory pathways. The associations of all 83 replicated CpG sites were attenuated after CRP adjustment, although many remained significant. Conclusion: We identified 83 CpG sites associated with circulating fibrinogen levels. These associations are partially driven by inflammatory pathways shared by both fibrinogen and CRP.
- DNA methylation
- epigenome-wide association study
- Mendelian randomization