Epidemiological evidence strongly suggests that fruit consumption promotes many health benefits. Despite the general consensus that fruit and juice are nutritionally similar, epidemiological results for juice consumption are conflicting. Our objective was to use DNA methylation marks to characterize fruit and juice epigenetic signatures within PBMCs and identify shared and independent signatures associated with these groups. Genome-wide DNA methylation marks (Illumina Human Methylation 450k chip) for 2,148 individuals that participated in the Framingham Offspring exam 8 were analyzed for correlations between fruit or juice consumption using standard linear regression. CpG sites with low P
-values (P <
0.01) were characterized using Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA), Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA), and experimentally derived Functional element Overlap analysis of ReGions from EWAS (eFORGE). Fruit and juice-specific low P
-value epigenetic signatures were largely independent. Genes near the fruit-specific epigenetic signature were enriched among pathways associated with antigen presentation and chromosome or telomere maintenance, while the juice-specific epigenetic signature was enriched for proinflammatory pathways. IPA and eFORGE analyses implicate fruit and juice-specific epigenetic signatures in the modulation of macrophage (fruit) and B or T cell (juice) activities. These data suggest a role for epigenetic regulation in fruit and juice-specific health benefits and demonstrate independent associations with distinct immune functions and cell types, suggesting that these groups may not confer the same health benefits. Identification of such differences between foods is the first step toward personalized nutrition and ultimately the improvement of human health and longevity.
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