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Epigenetics. 2011 Apr;6(4):508-15. Epub 2011 Apr 1.

Comprehensive DNA methylation analysis of human peripheral blood leukocytes and lymphoblastoid cell lines.

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  • 1Laboratory for Molecular Dynamics of Mental Disorders, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Saitama, Japan.


DNA methylation is involved in development and in human diseases. Genomic DNA derived from lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) is commonly used to study DNA methylation. There are potential confounding factors regarding the use of LCL-derived DNA, however, such as Epstein-Barr (EB) viral infection and artifacts induced during cell culture. Recently, several groups compared the DNA methylation status of peripheral blood leukocytes (PBLs) and LCLs and concluded that the DNA methylation profiles between them might be consistent. To confirm and extend theses results, we performed a comprehensive DNA methylation analysis using both PBLs and LCLs derived from the same individuals. Using the luminometric methylation assay, we revealed that the global DNA methylation level was different between PBLs and LCLs. Furthermore, the direction of change was not consistent. Comparisons of genome-wide DNA methylation patterns of promoter regions revealed that methylation profiles were largely conserved between PBLs and LCLs. A preliminary analysis in a small number of samples suggested that the methylation status of an LCL may be better correlated with PBLs from the same individual than with LCLs from other individuals. Expectedly, DNA methylation in promoter regions overlapping with CpG islands was associated with gene silencing in both PBLs and LCLs. With regard to methylation differences, we found that hypermethylation was more predominant than hypomethylation in LCLs compared with PBLs. These findings suggest that LCLs should be used for DNA methylation studies with caution as the methylation patterns of promoter regions in LCLs are not always the same as those in PBLs.

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