Hypomethylation of interleukin-6 (IL-6) gene increases the risk of essential hypertension: a matched case–control study

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Essential hypertension (EH) is a chronic disease with clear epigenetic component. Inflammation and endothelial dysfunction have a great role in the development of persistent blood pressure elevation. The aim of this study was to explore an association between EH and DNA methylation in pro-inflammation cytokine gene interleukin-6 (IL-6) during the inflammatory process. We performed methylation analysis of peripheral blood DNA using bisulphite pyrosequencing technology between 96 EH patients and 96 age- and gender-matched healthy controls. The present results showed that three cytosine–phosphate–guanine (CpG) sites of IL-6 promoter CpG island had different lower methylation in EH group compared with controls, but only CpG2 (58.43±7.53 versus 62.34±9.65, P=0.004) and CpG3 (51.52±6.18 versus 57.45±8.29, P<0.001) had statistical difference. Logistic regression analysis found CpG3 hypomethylation was a risk factor of EH (odds ratio=1.111, adjusted P=0.004). In addition, we found hypermethylation of CpG1 (64.84±7.06 versus 61.84±8.61) and CpG2 (62.04±7.40 versus 59.30±9.57) in male compared with female. In male, we found hypomethylation of CpG2 (60.41±7.74 versus 64.28±6.36) and CpG3 (53.70±8.62 versus 57.78±7.87) of smoker versus non-smoker and hypomethylation of CpG2 (60.89±7.32 versus 64.70±7.03) and CpG3 (53.23±7.99 versus 60.48±7.58) of drinker versus non-drinker. Furthermore, the CpG2 and CpG3 had a negative correlation with systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure (P<0.05). Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed that CpG2 (area under curve: 0.638, P=0.001) and CpG3 (area under curve: 0.704, P<0.001) had a diagnostic value to predict the risk of EH. In summary, our study revealed hypomethylation of IL-6 was correlated with the risk of EH in the population assessed and we found the differences of IL-6 promoter methylation in gender, smoking and drinking.

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This research was supported by Zhejiang Province Social development Research Project (2016C33178), K.C. Wong Magna Fund in Ningbo University, Ningbo Social Development Research Project (2014C50051), Ningbo Scientific Innovation Team for Environment Hazardous Factor Control and Prevention (2016C51001). Ningbo Medical Science and Technology Plan Project (2013A39), the Scientific Research Innovation Foundation of Ningbo University (G16097) and the Scientific Research Innovation Foundation of Ningbo University (G15070).

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Correspondence to F-y Yin or L-n Zhang.

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