Identification of associations between global DNA methylation and excess body weight (EBW) and related diseases and their modifying factors are an unmet research need that may lead to decreasing DNA methylation-associated disease risks in humans. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the following; 1) Association between the degree of peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) L1 methylation and folate, and indicators of EBW, 2) Association between the degree of PBMC L1 methylation and folate, and insulin resistance (IR) as indicated by a higher homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR).
The study population consisted of 470 child-bearing age women diagnosed with abnormal pap. The degree of PBMC L1 methylation was assessed by pyrosequencing. Logistic regression models specified indicators of EBW (body mass index–BMI, body fat–BF and waist circumference–WC) or HOMA-IR as dependent variables and the degree of PBMC L1 methylation and circulating concentrations of folate as the independent predictor of primary interest.
Women with a lower degree of PBMC L1 methylation and lower plasma folate concentrations were significantly more likely to have higher BMI, % BF or WC (OR = 2.49, 95% CI:1.41–4.47, P = 0.002; OR = 2.49, 95% CI:1.40–4.51, P = 0.002 and OR = 1.98, 95% = 1.14–3.48 P = 0.0145, respectively) and higher HOMA-IR (OR = 1.78, 95% CI:1.02–3.13, P = 0.041).
Our results demonstrated that a lower degree of PBMC L1 methylation is associated with excess body weight and higher HOMA-IR, especially in the presence of lower concentrations of plasma folate.