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Patrick De Boever Group. Sustainable Health
Flemish Institute of Technological Research (VITO), Unit for Environmental Risk and Health. Boerentang 200, 2400 Mol

DNA methylation, epigenetic biomarkers, miRNA, epidemiology, environment


Samples (urine, blood, plasma, saliva) from longitudinal human (birth) cohorts


Bisulfite pyrosequencing, Illumina 450K arrays, QRT-PCR (for miRNA assays), Agilent gene expression array platform, Epityper and iPlex MassArray

Collaborations outside COST

Patrick De Boever, is also guest professor at Hasselt University in Belgium. He is teaching molecular toxicology, molecular biology and genetic susceptibility. He manages the genomics platform at VITO. Since November 2012 Dr. Sabine Langie has been working at VITO in Belgium as an AXA Research funded postdoctoral fellow on the topic "Allergy: environmental and nutritional programming in childhood". Prior to VITO, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Newcastle University in the Centre for Brain Ageing and Vitality, focusing on the modulation of epigenetic modifications and DNA repair in the brain by early-life exposures, which has added to her expertise in the field of early-life exposures and epigenetics will contribute to the success of our project. We recently filed a patent (EP 15 169 841.2) on epigenetic biomarkers in relation to respiratory allergy. The lab is currently involved in a Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to unravel epigenetic and gene expression signatures that are predictive for neurodevelopmental trajectories in children. The work is together with Tulane University (USA). Previously, our lab was involved in a FrameWork 7 project OBELIX of the EU to investigate molecular (epigenetic) responses as a result of exposure to endocrine disrupting agents and the impact on obesity development ( Furthermore, Dr. Langie is holder of 2 research grants AXA Research Fund and CEFIC to investigate the epigenetic link between exposure to environmental factors and respiratory allergy development in children. Prof. Dr. Tim Nawrot; an associate professor of environmental epidemiology at Hasselt University and part time (20%) at Leuven University. His research focus on health effects of environmental pollutants on ageing including effects in early life. Currently, Dr. Nawrot holds an ERC starting grant and is part of the EU EXPOSOME consortium (Nature 491, November 29th, 2012), were he coordinates the children studies. Further, important interactions with numerous researchers outside Belgium exists e.g. with Prof. P. Vineis, Imperial College; and with the Harvard School of Public Health especially with Prof. dr. Andrea Baccarelli. Dr. Nawrot and Dr. De Boever share several PhD students that are currently working on the epigenetic connection between air pollution exposure and cardiovascular health and cognitive development in infants. Prof. Wim Vanden Berghe – at the department of Protein chemistry, Proteome analyses and Epigenetic Signaling (PPES) at the University of Antwerp – has kindly given us access to his pyrosequencing platform, and assists in bioinformatics via his connection with N2N-Biobix (Epigenetic Bioinformatics platform UGent) & Biomina (biomedical informatics research center Antwerp). We also collaborate with Prof. Guy Van Camp - at the department Human Molecular Genetics at the University of Antwerp – for our Illumina methylation array analyses. For our bioinformatics we collaborate with Dr. Diether Lambrechts VIB, KU Leuven, Belgium

Short description of ongoing research projects

Environmental conditions and lifestyle have an important effect of our health and wellbeing. Understanding on how specific factors (such as food contaminants, air quality, physical activity, etc.) impinge on disease development in the general population is of great importance for the health care sector. Human biomonitoring can help to correlate exposure to these factors to early physiological effect marker (pre-clinical state). The new genetic and molecular technologies have become instrumental for high content profiling of biological changes and understanding better the mechanisms of disease and disease development. Specific molecular signatures are becoming useful for public health monitoring and clinical applications.

  1. 1. Sabine A.S. Langie, Katarzyna Szarc vel Szic, Ken Declerck, Sophie Traen, Gudrun Koppen, Guy Van Camp, Greet Schoeters, Wim Vanden Berghe and Patrick de Boever. Whole-genome saliva and blood DNA methylation profiling in individuals with a respiratory allergy. Submitted to PLOS ONE
  2. 4. Langie SA, Koppen G, Govarts E, Van de Mieroop E, Nelen V, Desager K, De Boever P., Vanden Berghe W., Schoeters G. Allergy: environmental and nutritional programming in childhood. Allergy 68(SI); Supplement 97: pp.629, 2013
  3. 3. Sabine A.S. Langie, Pawel Kowalczyk, Bart Tomaszewski, Lou M. Maas, Edwin J. Moonen, Roger W.L. Godschalk, Barbara Tudek, Frederik J. van Schooten, Romuald Zabielski, John C. Mathers. Redox regulation and epigenetic regulation of the APE1 gene in the brain of young piglets: the effect of early life exposures. DNA Repair (Amst). (2014) 18;52-62
  4. 4. Sofia Lisanti, Wan A.W. Omar, Bart Tomaszewski, Sofie De Prins, Griet Jacobs, Gudrun Koppen, John C. Mathers, Sabine A.S. Langie. Comparison of methods for quantification of global DNA methylation in human cells and tissues. PLOS ONE (2013) 8;e79044
  5. 5. Sabine A.S. Langie, Sebastian Achterfeldt, Joanna P. Gorniak, Kirstin J.A. Halley-Hogg, David Oxley, Frederik J. van Schooten, Roger W.L. Godschalk, Jill A. McKay, John C. Mathers. Maternal folate depletion and high-fat feeding from weaning affects DNA methylation and DNA repair in brain of adult offspring. FASEB J. (2013) 27;3323-34
Other activities of potential interest to others

Dr. Langie is committee member for the Molecular Epidemiology Group (MEG-UK) of the UKEMS. Other memberships: 2014 - Member of Belgian Society of Toxicology and Ecotoxicology (BelTox) 2013 - Member of Environmental Mutagen Society (BEMS) 2013 - Member of The European Academy of Allergy and Cinical Immunology (EAACI) 2009 - Member of the European Environmental Mutagen Society (EEMS) via the UK branch (UKEMS) 2011 - Member of the European Nutrition Leadership Programme.(ENLP) 2008 - European Registered Toxicologist (ERT)

Cost UE