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Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Sep 2;9(1):215. doi: 10.1038/s41398-019-0550-2.

Genome-wide profiling of DNA methylome and transcriptome in peripheral blood monocytes for major depression: A Monozygotic Discordant Twin Study.

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health and Health Professions and College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
2
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
3
Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
4
Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health and Health Professions and College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA. jzhao66@ufl.edu.

Abstract

DNA methylation plays an important role in major depressive disorder (MDD), but the specific genes and genomic regions associated with MDD remain largely unknown. Here we conducted genome-wide profiling of DNA methylation (Infinium MethylationEPIC BeadChip) and gene expression (RNA-seq) in peripheral blood monocytes from 79 monozygotic twin pairs (mean age 38.2 ± 15.6 years) discordant on lifetime history of MDD to identify differentially methylated regions (DMRs) and differentially expressed genes (DEGs) associated with MDD, followed by replication in brain tissue samples. Integrative DNA methylome and transcriptome analysis and network analysis was performed to identify potential functional epigenetic determinants for MDD. We identified 39 DMRs and 30 DEGs associated with lifetime history of MDD. Some genes were replicated in postmortem brain tissue. Integrative DNA methylome and transcriptome analysis revealed both negative and positive correlations between DNA methylation and gene expression, but the correlation pattern varies greatly by genomic locations. Network analysis revealed distinct gene modules enriched in signaling pathways related to stress responses, neuron apoptosis, insulin receptor signaling, mTOR signaling, and nerve growth factor receptor signaling, suggesting potential functional relevance to MDD. These results demonstrated that altered DNA methylation and gene expression in peripheral blood monocytes are associated with MDD. Our results highlight the utility of using peripheral blood epigenetic markers and demonstrate that a monozygotic discordant co-twin control design can aid in the discovery of novel genes associated with MDD. If validated, the newly identified genes may serve as novel biomarkers or druggable targets for MDD and related disorders.

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