Genome-wide brain DNA methylation analysis suggests epigenetic reprogramming in Parkinson disease

Juan I. Young, Sathesh K. Sivasankaran, Lily Wang, Aleena Ali, Arpit Mehta, David A. Davis, Derek M. Dykxhoorn, Carol Petito, Gary W. Beecham, Eden R. Martin, Deborah C. Mash, Margaret Pericak-Vance, William K. Scott, Thomas J. Montine, Jeffery M. Vance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective Given the known strong relationship of DNA methylation with environmental exposure, we investigated whether brain regions affected in Parkinson disease (PD) were differentially methylated between PD cases and controls. Methods DNA chip arrays were used to perform a genome-wide screen of DNA methylation on the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV), substantia nigra (SN), and cingulate gyrus (CG) of pathologically confirmed PD cases and controls selected using the criteria of Beecham et al. Analysis examined differentially methylated regions (DMRs) between cases and controls for each brain area. RNA sequencing and pathway analysis were also performed for each brain area. Results Thirty-eight PD cases and 41 controls were included in the analysis. Methylation studies revealed 234 significant DMR in the DMV, 44 in the SN, and 141 in the CG between cases and controls (Sidak p < 0.05). Pathway analysis of these genes showed significant enrichment for the Wnt signaling pathway (FDR < 0.01). Conclusions Our data suggest that significant DNA methylation changes exist between cases and controls in PD, especially in the DMV, one of the areas affected earliest in PD. The etiology of these methylation changes is not yet known, but the predominance of methylation changes occurring in the DMV supports the hypothesis that vagus nerve function, perhaps involving the gastrointestinal system, is important in PD pathogenesis. These data also give independent support that genes involved in Wnt signaling are a likely factor in the neurodegenerative processes of PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number342
JournalNeurology: Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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