DNA Methylation Involved In Alzheimer's, Study Finds
A new study has revealed how early changes in brain DNA methylation are involved in Alzheimer's disease. DNA methylation is a biochemical alteration of the building blocks of DNA.
DNA methylation is also one of the markers that indicate whether the DNA is open and biologically active in a given region of the human genome.
"Our study approach may help us to better understand the biological impact of environmental risk factors and life experiences on Alzheimer's disease," said Philip L. De Jager, MD, PhD, Program in Translational Neuropsychiatric Genomics, BWH Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry, lead study author, in the press release. "There are certain advantages to studying the epigenome, or the chemical changes that occur in DNA. The epigenome is malleable and may harbor traces of life events that influence disease susceptibility, such as smoking, depression and menopause, which may influence susceptibility to Alzheimer's and other diseases."
Researchers examined sample from 708 donated brains from subjects in the Religious Orders Study and Rush Memory and Aging Project. They noted that methylation levels correlated with Alzheimer's disease in 71 of 415,848 CpG markers analyzed.
"Further, because these findings are also found in the subset of subjects that are not cognitively impaired at the time of death, it appears that these DNA methylation changes may play a role in the onset of Alzheimer's disease," added De Jager. "Moreover, our work has helped identify regions of the human genome that are altered over the life-course in a way that is associated with Alzheimer's disease. This may provide clues to treating the disease by using drugs that influence epigenomic function."
Findings of the study is published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.