Cigarette smoking has been associated with epigenetic alterations that may be reversible upon cessation. As the most-studied epigenetic modification, DNA methylation is strongly associated with smoking exposure, providing a potential mechanism that links smoking to adverse health outcomes. Here, we reviewed the reversibility of DNA methylation in accessible peripheral tissues, mainly blood, in relation to cigarette smoking cessation and the utility of DNA methylation as a biomarker signature to differentiate current, former, and never smokers and to quantify time since cessation. We summarized thousands of differentially methylated Cytosine-Guanine (CpG) dinucleotides and regions associated with smoking cessation from candidate gene and epigenome-wide association studies, as well as the prediction accuracy of the multi-CpG predictors for smoking status. Overall, there is robust evidence for DNA methylation signature of cigarette smoking cessation. However, there are still gaps to fill, including (1) cell-type heterogeneity in measuring blood DNA methylation; (2) underrepresentation of non-European ancestry populations; (3) limited longitudinal data to quantitatively measure DNA methylation after smoking cessation over time; and (4) limited data to study the impact of smoking cessation on other epigenetic features, noncoding RNAs, and histone modifications. Epigenetic machinery provides promising biomarkers that can improve success in smoking cessation in the clinical setting. To achieve this goal, larger and more-diverse samples with longitudinal measures of a broader spectrum of epigenetic marks will be essential to developing a robust DNA methylation biomarker assay, followed by meeting validation requirements for the assay before being implemented as a clinically useful tool.
Epigenetic biomarkers for smoking cessation
Fang, F., Andersen, A. M., Philibert, R., & Hancock, D. B. (2023). Epigenetic biomarkers for smoking cessation. Addiction neuroscience, 6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addicn.2023.100079
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