Asthma is a complex trait, often associated with atopy. The genetic contribution has been evidenced by familial occurrence. Genome-wide association studies allowed for associating numerous genes with asthma, as well as identifying new loci that have a minor contribution to its phenotype. Considering the role of environmental exposure on asthma development, an increasing amount of literature has been published on epigenetic modifications associated with this pathology and especially on DNA methylation, in an attempt to better understand its missing heritability. These studies have been conducted in different tissues, but mainly in blood or its peripheral mononuclear cells. However, there is growing evidence that epigenetic changes that occur in one cell type cannot be directly translated into another one. In this review, we compare alterations in DNA methylation from different cells of the immune system and of the respiratory tract. The cell types in which data are obtained influences the global status of alteration of DNA methylation in asthmatic individuals compared to control (an increased or a decreased DNA methylation). Given that several genes were cell-type-specific, there is a great need for comparative studies on DNA methylation from different cells, but from the same individuals in order to better understand the role of epigenetics in asthma pathophysiology.
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