Abstract

Purpose of Review: DNA methylation (DNAm) is essential to human development and plays an important role as a biomarker due to its susceptibility to environmental exposures. This article reviews the current state of statistical methods developed for differential variability analysis focusing on DNAm data. Recent Findings: With the advent of high-throughput technologies allowing for highly reliable and cost-effective measurements of DNAm, many epigenome studies have analyzed DNAm levels to uncover biological mechanisms underlying past environmental exposures and subsequent health outcomes. These studies typically focused on detecting sites or regions which differ in their mean DNAm levels among exposure groups. However, more recent studies highlighted the importance of identifying differentially variable sites or regions as biologically relevant features. Summary: Currently, the analysis of differentially variable DNAm sites has not yet gained widespread adoption in environmental studies; yet, it is important to examine the effects of environmental exposures on inter-individual epigenetic variability. In this article, we describe six of the most widely used statistical approaches for analyzing differential variability of DNAm levels and provide a discussion of their advantages and current limitations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-630
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Environmental Health Reports
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • DNA methylation
  • Differential methylation
  • Differential variability
  • Mean and variance test
  • Variability test

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