Image_6_A Meta-Analysis of Brain DNA Methylation Across Sex, Age, and Alzheimer's Disease Points for Accelerated Epigenetic Aging in Neurodegeneration.TIF (493.04 kB)
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Image_6_A Meta-Analysis of Brain DNA Methylation Across Sex, Age, and Alzheimer's Disease Points for Accelerated Epigenetic Aging in Neurodegeneration.TIF

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posted on 11.03.2021, 04:58 by Camilla Pellegrini, Chiara Pirazzini, Claudia Sala, Luisa Sambati, Igor Yusipov, Alena Kalyakulina, Francesco Ravaioli, Katarzyna M. Kwiatkowska, Danielle F. Durso, Mikhail Ivanchenko, Daniela Monti, Raffaele Lodi, Claudio Franceschi, Pietro Cortelli, Paolo Garagnani, Maria Giulia Bacalini

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by specific alterations of brain DNA methylation (DNAm) patterns. Age and sex, two major risk factors for AD, are also known to largely affect the epigenetic profiles in brain, but their contribution to AD-associated DNAm changes has been poorly investigated. In this study we considered publicly available DNAm datasets of four brain regions (temporal, frontal, entorhinal cortex, and cerebellum) from healthy adult subjects and AD patients, and performed a meta-analysis to identify sex-, age-, and AD-associated epigenetic profiles. In one of these datasets it was also possible to distinguish 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) profiles. We showed that DNAm differences between males and females tend to be shared between the four brain regions, while aging differently affects cortical regions compared to cerebellum. We found that the proportion of sex-dependent probes whose methylation is modified also during aging is higher than expected, but that differences between males and females tend to be maintained, with only a few probes showing age-by-sex interaction. We did not find significant overlaps between AD- and sex-associated probes, nor disease-by-sex interaction effects. On the contrary, we found that AD-related epigenetic modifications are significantly enriched in probes whose DNAm varies with age and that there is a high concordance between the direction of changes (hyper or hypo-methylation) in aging and AD, supporting accelerated epigenetic aging in the disease. In summary, our results suggest that age-associated DNAm patterns concur to the epigenetic deregulation observed in AD, providing new insights on how advanced age enables neurodegeneration.

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