Age-related DNA methylation changes are sex-specific: a comprehensive assessment
Maria Giulia Bacalini,
Posted 15 Jan 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.15.905224
Posted 15 Jan 2020
In humans, females live longer than males but experience a worse longevity, as genome-wide autosomal DNA methylation differences between males and females have been reported. So far, few studies have investigated if DNA methylation is differently affected by aging in males and females. We performed a meta-analysis of 4 large whole blood datasets, comparing 4 aspects of epigenetic age-dependent remodeling between the two sexes: differential methylation, variability, epimutations and entropy. We reported that a large fraction (43%) of sex-associated probes undergoes age-associated DNA methylation changes, and that a limited number of probes shows age-by-sex interaction. We experimentally validated 2 regions mapping in FIGN and PRR4 genes, and showed sex-specific deviations of their methylation patterns in models of decelerated (centenarians) and accelerated (Down syndrome) aging. While we did not find sex differences in the age-associated increase in epimutations and in entropy, we showed that the number of probes showing age-related increase in methylation variability is 15 times higher in males compared to females. Our results can offer new epigenetic tools to study the interaction between aging and sex and can pave the way to the identification of molecular triggers of sex differences in longevity and age-related diseases prevalence. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest. * sDMPs : sex-associated differentially methylated positions aDMPs : age-associated differentially methylated positions saDMPs : sex- and age-associated differentially methylated positions snaDMPs : sex-but not age-associated differentially methylated positions saVMPs : sex-specific age-associated variably methylated positions
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