A genome wide association study has uncovered differentially methylated regions linked to longevity and the suppression of age-related diseases. Asian Scientist Newsroom | May 8, 2015 |

In the Lab AsianScientist (May 8, 2015) – A team of Chinese researchers have found discovered how epigenetic modification, such as DNA methylation, may play roles in increasing human lifespan.

The main findings have been published in PLOS ONE. Although the discoveries of a number of genes in the past decade suggest the existence of longevity genes, genetic variation may only explain 20-30 percent of human longevity. It does not also explain the low incidence of age-related diseases in centenarians and their offspring.

Given these circumstances and the complexity of longevity, it is reasonable to assume that epigenetic modification, such as DNA methylation, may play roles in increasing human lifespan. Therefore, by collaborating with Beijing Genomics Institute, the research team of Dr. Kong Qingpeng at Kunming Institute of Zoology of Chinese Academy of Sciences obtained the genome-wide landscapes of DNA methylation of four female healthy centenarians and four ethnicity matched middle-aged individuals from four different provinces of China.

In this study, 626 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were observed between both centenarians and the controls. More importantly, genes with these DMRs were enriched in age-related diseases, including type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. This pattern remained stable when the methylation profiles of Caucasian centenarians were included, even though the genetic background of Caucasians is quite different from Chinese.

The findings indicate both the existence of a large number of DMRs between the centenarians and younger control subjects and the crucial roles they play in regulating the genes, especially the ones that show susceptibility to the age-related diseases.

These observations echo with the ability of centenarians in escaping or delaying the age-related diseases. Hence, this study suggests that suppressing the disease-related genes via the epigenetic modification is likely an important contributor in human longevity.

The article can be found at: Xiao et al. (2015) A Genome-Wide Scan Reveals Important Roles Of DNA Methylation In Human Longevity By Regulating Age-Related Disease Genes. ——— Read more from Asian Scientist Magazine at: http://www.asianscientist.com/2015/05/in-the-lab/dna-methylation-regulates-longevity-humans/