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Assessing the relationship between social deprivation and DNA methylation in a traumatic brain injury cohort

Harmony, Tara Elaine (2022) Assessing the relationship between social deprivation and DNA methylation in a traumatic brain injury cohort. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Health outcomes in human populations are strongly influenced by social, economic, and environmental factors known collectively as social determinants of health (SDH). Many of these factors are linked to the neighborhood in which a person lives, which has led to the development of measures such as the Social Deprivation Index (SDI) to characterize the level of social deprivation an individual is likely to experience based on where they live. One mechanism through which social deprivation may influence health outcomes is DNA methylation (DNAm). Research suggests that certain environmental exposures can cause localized changes in DNAm levels, which may influence specific health outcomes, as well as sweeping changes in global DNAm patterns, which may accelerate biological aging processes.
The current project sought to investigate the relationship between social deprivation and DNAm levels in a cohort of adult traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. Using patient zip code data as well as genome-wide DNAm data collected from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients in this TBI cohort, we performed linear regression analyses comparing patient SDI to DNAm levels at specific sites in and around the BDNF gene as well as analyses comparing patient SDI to epigenetic age acceleration, which was calculated based on DNAm levels at multiple sites across the genome. Although previous research suggests that low socioeconomic status may contribute to increased methylation of BDNF, we found no significant association between SDI and DNAm of BDNF within the TBI cohort. However, our results did support a negative linear relationship between SDI and epigenetic age acceleration according to multiple epigenetic clock measures. Furthermore, stratifying participants by age revealed that this negative linear relationship was only found in participants 40 years and older.
This project is significant to the field of public health because it contributes to the growing body of research on how epigenetic mechanisms like DNAm mediate the relationship between social deprivation and health outcomes. This research can help public health professionals better understand the causes of health disparities in this country and what policies and healthcare interventions can best address them.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Harmony, Tara Elaineteh44@pitt.eduteh440000-0002-1754-5600
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairShaffer, John R.john.r.shaffer@pitt.edujohn.r.shafferUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberConley, Yvette Peryyconley@pitt.eduyconleyUNSPECIFIED
Date: 17 May 2022
Date Type: Completion
Submission Date: 21 April 2022
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 48
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Human Genetics
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: epigenetics, social determinants of health, TBI, DNAm
Date Deposited: 17 May 2022 15:47
Last Modified: 17 May 2024 05:15


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