Racial and socioeconomic disparity associates with differences in cardiac DNA methylation among men with end-stage heart failure

Academic Article


  • Heart Failure (HF) is a multifactorial syndrome that remains a leading cause of worldwide morbidity. Despite its high prevalence, only half of HF patients respond to guideline-directed medical management, prompting therapeutic efforts to confront the molecular underpinnings of its heterogeneity. In the current study, we examined epigenetics as a yet unexplored source of heterogeneity among patients with end-stage HF. Specifically, a multicohort-based study was designed to quantify cardiac genome-wide cytosine-p-guanine (CpG) methylation of cardiac biopsies from male patients undergoing left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation. In both pilot (n = 11) and testing (n = 31) cohorts, unsupervised multidimensional scaling of genome-wide myocardial DNA methylation exhibited a bimodal distribution of CpG methylation found largely to occur in the promoter regions of metabolic genes. Among the available patient attributes, only categorical self-identified patient race could delineate this methylation signature, with African American (AA) and Caucasian American (CA) samples clustering separately. Because race is a social construct, and thus a poor proxy of human physiology, extensive review of medical records was conducted, but ultimately failed to identify co-variates of race at the time of LVAD surgery. By contrast, retrospective analysis exposed a higher all-cause mortality among AA (56.3%) relative to CA (16.7%) patients at 2 years following LVAD placement (P = 0.03). Geocoding-based approximation of patient demographics uncovered disparities in income levels among AA relative to CA patients. Therefore, although additional studies are needed, the current analysis implicates cardiac DNA methylation as a previously unrecognized indicator of socioeconomic disparity in human heart failure outcomes.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Pepin ME; Ha CM; Potter LA; Bakshi S; Barchue JP; Asaad AH; Pogwizd SM; Pamboukian SV; Hidalgo BA; Vickers SM
  • Volume

  • 320
  • Issue

  • 5