Background: The role of methylation in pancreatic cancer risk remains unclear. We integrated genome and methylome data to identify CpG sites (CpG) with the genetically predicted methylation to be associated with pancreatic cancer risk. We also studied gene expression to understand the identified associations. Methods: Using genetic data and white blood cell methylation data from 1,595 subjects of European descent, we built genetic models to predict DNA methylation levels. After internal and external validation, we applied prediction models with satisfactory performance to the genetic data of 8,280 pancreatic cancer cases and 6,728 controls of European ancestry to investigate the associations of predicted methylation with pancreatic cancer risk. For associated CpGs, we compared their measured levels in pancreatic tumor versus benign tissue. Results: We identified 45 CpGs at nine loci showing an association with pancreatic cancer risk, including 15 CpGs showing an association independent from identified risk variants. We observed significant correlations between predicted methylation of 16 of the 45 CpGs and predicted expression of eight adjacent genes, of which six genes showed associations with pancreatic cancer risk. Of the 45 CpGs, we were able to compare measured methylation of 16 in pancreatic tumor versus benign pancreatic tissue. Of them, six showed differentiated methylation. Conclusions: We identified methylation biomarker candidates associated with pancreatic cancer using genetic instruments and added additional insights into the role of methylation in regulating gene expression in pancreatic cancer development. Impact: A comprehensive study using genetic instruments identifies 45 CpG sites at nine genomic loci for pancreatic cancer risk.
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