Background: Identifying environmentally responsive genetic loci where DNA methylation is associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) may reveal novel pathways or therapeutic targets for CHD. We conducted the first prospective epigenome-wide analysis of DNA methylation in relation to incident CHD in the Asian population. Methods: We did a nested case-control study comprising incident CHD cases and 1:1 matched controls who were identified from the 10-year follow-up of the China Kadoorie Biobank. Methylation level of baseline blood leukocyte DNA was measured by Infinium Methylation EPIC BeadChip. We performed the single cytosine-phosphate-guanine (CpG) site association analysis and network approach to identify CHD-associated CpG sites and co-methylation gene module. Results: After quality control, 982 participants (mean age 50.1 years) were retained. Methylation level at 25 CpG sites across the genome was associated with incident CHD (genome-wide false discovery rate [FDR] < 0.05 or module-specific FDR <0.01). One SD increase in methylation level of identified CpGs was associated with differences in CHD risk, ranging from a 47% decrease to a 118% increase. Mediation analyses revealed 28.5% of the excessed CHD risk associated with smoking was mediated by methylation level at the promoter region of ANKS1A gene (P for mediation effect = 0.036). Methylation level at the promoter region of SNX30 was associated with blood pressure and subsequent risk of CHD, with the mediating proportion to be 7.7% (P = 0.003) via systolic blood pressure and 6.4% (P = 0.006) via diastolic blood pressure. Network analysis revealed a co-methylation module associated with CHD. Conclusions: We identified novel blood methylation alterations associated with incident CHD in the Asian population and provided evidence of the possible role of epigenetic regulations in the smoking- and BP-related pathways to CHD risk. Funding: This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (81390544 and 91846303). The CKB baseline survey and the first re-survey were supported by a grant from the Kadoorie Charitable Foundation in Hong Kong. The long-term follow-up is supported by grants from the UK Wellcome Trust (202922/Z/16/Z, 088158/Z/09/Z, 104085/Z/14/Z), grant (2016YFC0900500, 2016YFC0900501, 2016YFC0900504, 2016YFC1303904) from the National Key and Program of China, and Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (2011BAI09B01).
epidemiology, genetics, genomics, global health, human