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Age and mortality associated DNA methylation patterns on the X-chromosome in male and female samples

By Shuxia Li, Jesper Beltoft Lund, Jan Baumbach, Kaare Christensen, Jonas Mengel-From, Weilong Li, Afsaneh Mohammadnejad, Alison Pattie, Riccardo E Marioni, Ian J Deary, Qihua Tan

Posted 14 May 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/636597

Background: Multiple epigenetic association studies on human aging have been performed reporting large numbers of sites differentially methylated across ages on the autosomal chromosomes. The X-chromosome has been studied little, due to analytical difficulties in dealing with sex differences in X-chromosome content and X-inactivation in females. Based on large collections of genome-wide DNA methylation data on two Danish cohorts of identical twins (mean ages, 66 and 79 years) and the Lothian Birth Cohort 1921 (mean age 79 years), we conducted a chromosome-wide association analysis on male and female samples separately with equal sample sizes to discover age-dependent X-linked DNA methylation patterns using chromosome 20 with about same number of CpGs analysed as an autosomal reference, and compare the age-related changes in DNA methylation between the two sexes. In addition, age-related methylation sites were assessed for their associations with mortality. Results: We identified more age-related DNA methylation sites (FDR<0.05) in females than in males. Among them, predominantly more sites were hypermethylated in the older as compared with the younger cohorts, a pattern similar to that observed on chromosome 20. Among the age-related sites, 13 CpGs in males and 24 CpGs in females were found significant (FDR<0.05) in all cohorts. Survival analysis showed that there are more age-methylated CpGs that contribute to reduce mortality than those that increase mortality in male but not in female samples. Conclusion: The X-chromosome displays significant age- and sex-dependent methylation patterns which might be differentially associated with mortality in the two sexes.

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