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Epigenetic clock and methylation studies in cats

By Ken Raj, Balazs Szladovits, Amin Haghani, Joseph Alan Zoller, Caesar Z Li, Steve Horvath

Posted 08 Sep 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.06.284877

Human DNA methylation profiles have been used successfully to develop highly accurate biomarkers of aging (“epigenetic clocks”). Although these human epigenetic clocks are not immediately applicable to all species of the animal kingdom, the principles underpinning them appear to be conserved even in animals that are evolutionarily far removed from humans. This is exemplified by recent development of epigenetic clocks for mice and other mammalian species. Here, we describe epigenetic clocks for the domestic cat ( Felis catus ), based on methylation profiles of CpGs with flanking DNA sequences that are highly conserved between multiple mammalian species. Methylation levels of these CpGs are measured using a custom-designed Infinium array (HorvathMammalMethylChip40). From these, we present 3 epigenetic clocks for cats; of which, one applies only to blood samples from cats, while the remaining two dual-species human-cat clocks apply both to cats and humans. As the rate of human epigenetic ageing is associated with a host of health conditions and pathologies, it is expected that these epigenetic clocks for cats would do likewise and possess the potential to be further developed for monitoring feline health as well as being used for identifying and validating anti-aging interventions. ### Competing Interest Statement SH is a founder of the non-profit Epigenetic Clock Development Foundation which plans to license several patents from his employer UC Regents. These patents list SH as inventor. The other authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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