Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 36202838
Link to DOI – 10.1038/s41467-022-33511-6
Nat Commun 2022 Oct; 13(1): 5895
Epigenetic changes are required for normal development, yet the nature and respective contribution of factors that drive epigenetic variation in humans remain to be fully characterized. Here, we assessed how the blood DNA methylome of 884 adults is affected by DNA sequence variation, age, sex and 139 factors relating to life habits and immunity. Furthermore, we investigated whether these effects are mediated or not by changes in cellular composition, measured by deep immunophenotyping. We show that DNA methylation differs substantially between naïve and memory T cells, supporting the need for adjustment on these cell-types. By doing so, we find that latent cytomegalovirus infection drives DNA methylation variation and provide further support that the increased dispersion of DNA methylation with aging is due to epigenetic drift. Finally, our results indicate that cellular composition and DNA sequence variation are the strongest predictors of DNA methylation, highlighting critical factors for medical epigenomics studies.