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PLoS Genet. 2010 May 27;6(5):e1000971. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000971.

Aging and chronic sun exposure cause distinct epigenetic changes in human skin.

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  • 1Research and Development, Beiersdorf AG, Hamburg, Germany.


Epigenetic changes are widely considered to play an important role in aging, but experimental evidence to support this hypothesis has been scarce. We have used array-based analysis to determine genome-scale DNA methylation patterns from human skin samples and to investigate the effects of aging, chronic sun exposure, and tissue variation. Our results reveal a high degree of tissue specificity in the methylation patterns and also showed very little interindividual variation within tissues. Data stratification by age revealed that DNA from older individuals was characterized by a specific hypermethylation pattern affecting less than 1% of the markers analyzed. Interestingly, stratification by sun exposure produced a fundamentally different pattern with a significant trend towards hypomethylation. Our results thus identify defined age-related DNA methylation changes and suggest that these alterations might contribute to the phenotypic changes associated with skin aging.

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