Physical Activity, Television Viewing Time, and DNA Methylation in Peripheral Blood

Eline H. Van Roekel, Pierre Antoine Dugué, Chol Hee Jung, Jihoon E. Joo, Enes Makalic, Ee Ming Wong, Dallas R. English, Melissa C. Southey, Graham G. Giles, Brigid M. Lynch, Roger L. Milne

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Introduction Physical activity may affect health via DNA methylation. The epigenetic influences of sedentary behaviors such as television viewing are unknown. We performed a genomewide study of DNA methylation in peripheral blood in relation to physical activity and television viewing time. Methods DNA methylation was measured using the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation450K BeadChip array in blood samples collected at baseline (N = 5513) and follow-up (N = 1249) from participants in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. At baseline, times per week of leisure-time physical activity were self-reported. At follow-up, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire was used to assess MET-hours per week of total and leisure-time physical activity and hours per day of television viewing time. Linear mixed models were used to assess associations between physical activity and television viewing measures and DNA methylation at individual CpG sites, adjusted for potential confounders and batch effects. Results At follow-up, total physical activity was associated with DNA methylation at cg10266336 (P = 6.0 × 10 -9 ), annotated to the SAA2 gene. Weaker evidence of associations (P < 1.0 × 10 -5 ) were observed for an additional 14 CpG sites with total physical activity, for 7 CpG sites with leisure-time physical activity, and for 9 CpG sites with television viewing time. Changes in leisure-time physical activity between baseline and follow-up were associated with methylation changes (P < 0.05) at four of the seven CpG sites with weaker evidence of cross-sectional associations with leisure-time physical activity. Conclusion Physical activity and television viewing may be associated with blood DNA methylation, a potential pathway to chronic disease development. Further research using accelerometer data and larger sample sizes is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-498
Number of pages9
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019



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