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Redlining-associated methylation in breast tumors: the impact of contemporary structural racism on the tumor epigenome. Front Oncol 2023;13:1154554



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Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85168678678 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   3 Citations


PURPOSE: Place-based measures of structural racism have been associated with breast cancer mortality, which may be driven, in part, by epigenetic perturbations. We examined the association between contemporary redlining, a measure of structural racism at the neighborhood level, and DNA methylation in breast tumor tissue.

METHODS: We identified 80 Black and White women diagnosed and treated for a first-primary breast cancer at Emory University Hospitals (2008-2017). Contemporary redlining was derived for census tracts using the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act database. Linear regression models were used to calculate the association between contemporary redlining and methylation in breast tumor tissue. We also examined epigenetic age acceleration for two different metrics, regressing β values for each cytosine-phosphate-guanine dinucleotide (CpG) site on redlining while adjusting for covariates. We employed multivariable Cox-proportional hazards models and 95% confidence intervals (CI) to estimate the association between aberrant methylation and mortality.

RESULTS: Contemporary redlining was associated with 5 CpG sites after adjustment for multiple comparisons (FDR<0.10). All genes were implicated in breast carcinogenesis, including genes related to inflammation, immune function and stress response (ANGPT1, PRG4 and PRG4). Further exploration of the top 25 CpG sites, identified interaction of 2 sites (MRPS28 and cg11092048) by ER status and 1 site (GDP1) was associated with all-cause mortality. Contemporary redlining was associated with epigenetic age acceleration by the Hannum metric (β=5.35; CI 95%=0.30,10.4) and showed positive but non-significant correlation with the other clock.

CONCLUSION: We identified novel associations between neighborhood contemporary redlining and the breast tumor DNA methylome, suggesting that racist policies leading to inequitable social and environmental exposures, may impact the breast tumor epigenome. Additional research on the potential implications for prognosis is needed.

Author List

Miller-Kleinhenz JM, Moubadder L, Beyer KM, Zhou Y, Gaglioti AH, Collin LJ, Gohar J, Do W, Conneely K, Krishnamurti U, Gogineni K, Gabram-Mendola S, D'Angelo O, Henry K, Torres M, McCullough LE


Kirsten M. Beyer PhD, MPH Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin