The relation between DNA methylation patterns and serum cytokine levels in community-dwelling adults: a preliminary study
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BACKGROUND: The levels of circulating cytokines fluctuate with age, acute illness, and chronic disease, and are predictive of mortality; this is also true for patterns of DNA (CpG) methylation. Given that immune cells are particularly sensitive to changes in the concentration of cytokines in their microenvironment, we hypothesized that serum levels of TNF, IL-6, IL-8 and IL-10 would correlate with genome-wide alterations in the DNA methylation levels of blood leukocytes. To test this, we evaluated community-dwelling adults (n = 14; 48-78 years old) recruited to a pilot study for the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), examining DNA methylation patterns in peripheral blood mononuclear cells using the Illumina HumanMethylation 450 K BeadChip. RESULTS: We show that, apart from age, serum IL-10 levels exhibited the most substantial association to DNA methylation patterns, followed by TNF, IL-6 and IL-8. Furthermore, while the levels of these cytokines were higher in elderly adults, no associations with epigenetic accelerated aging, derived using the epigenetic clock, were observed. CONCLUSIONS: As a preliminary study with a small sample size, the conclusions drawn from this work must be viewed with caution; however, our observations are encouraging and certainly warrant more suitably powered studies of this relationship.
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