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Differential Impact of Smoking on Methylome and Transcriptome in Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

BACKGROUND: Smoking is an environmental factor that differentially impacts Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The mechanism of impact of smoking on disease risk and clinical outcomes remains to be established.

METHODS: This study used a prospective cohort of patients with CD or UC. Self-reported smoking status was validated using serum cotinine measurement. We profiled methylation changes in peripheral blood using the Illumina Methylation BeadChip. Transcriptomic profiling was performed on ileal and colonic tissue using an Illumina TruSeq platform. We compared the methylation and transcriptional changes in current, former, and never smokers stratified by disease type.

RESULTS: Our cohort included 200 patients with CD or UC with methylation profiles and 160 with transcriptomic data. The mean serum cotinine level was higher in current compared with former or never smokers. Epigenetic changes common to both CD and UC included hypomethylation at AHRR. Smoking-associated MGAT3 hypomethylation was associated with severe disease course only in UC, while IER3 hypomethylation was associated with worse course only in CD. Smoking downregulated several inflammatory pathways in UC. Current smoking in CD but not in UC was associated with upregulation of several genes mediating Paneth cell function. Genes with opposite direction of effects in CD and UC include HSD3B2 and GSTA1.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest both common and differential effects of cigarette smoking on CD and UC. Paneth cell dysfunction may mediate adverse impact of smoking on CD. Bile acid and oxidative stress pathways may be relevant for the differential effect of smoking on CD and UC.

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