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Exp Gerontol. 2010 Apr;45(4):312-22. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2009.12.008. Epub 2009 Dec 24.

Age-dependent decreases in DNA methyltransferase levels and low transmethylation micronutrient levels synergize to promote overexpression of genes implicated in autoimmunity and acute coronary syndromes.

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  • 1Dept. of Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 48109, USA.

Abstract

T cell DNA methylation levels decline with age, activating genes such as KIR and TNFSF7 (CD70), implicated in lupus-like autoimmunity and acute coronary syndromes. The mechanisms causing age-dependent DNA demethylation are unclear. Maintenance of DNA methylation depends on DNA methyltransferase 1 (Dnmt1) and intracellular S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) levels, and is inhibited by S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH). SAM levels depend on dietary micronutrients including folate and methionine. SAH levels depend on serum homocysteine concentrations. T cell Dnmt1 levels also decline with age. We hypothesized that age-dependent Dnmt1 decreases synergize with low folate, low methionine or high homocysteine levels to demethylate and activate methylation-sensitive genes. T cells from healthy adults ages 22-81, stimulated and cultured with low folate, low methionine, or high homocysteine concentrations showed demethylation and overexpression of KIR and CD70 beginning at age approximately 50 and increased further with age. The effects were reproduced by Dnmt1 knockdowns in T cells from young subjects. These results indicate that maintenance of T cell DNA methylation patterns is more sensitive to low folate and methionine levels in older than younger individuals, due to low Dnmt1 levels, and that homocysteine further increases aberrant gene expression. Thus, attention to proper nutrition may be particularly important in the elderly.

Published by Elsevier Inc.

KEYWORDS:

Aging; DNA methylation; Epigenetics; Senescence

PMID:
20035856
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2838973
Free PMC Article

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