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Epigenetics. 2019 Sep 22:1-16. doi: 10.1080/15592294.2019.1656157. [Epub ahead of print]

Hypermethylation-associated downregulation of microRNA-4456 in hypersexual disorder with putative influence on oxytocin signalling: A DNA methylation analysis of miRNA genes.

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Department of Neuroscience, Functional Pharmacology, Uppsala University , Uppsala , Sweden.
Department of Clinical Sciences/Psychiatry, Umeå University , Umeå , Sweden.
Andrology/Sexual Medicine Group (ANOVA), Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet , Stockholm , Sweden.
Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich , Zürich , Switzerland.
Institute for Translational Medicine and Biotechnology, Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University , Moscow , Russia.
Department of Clinical Neuroscience/Psychiatry, Karolinska Institutet , Stockholm , Sweden.


Hypersexual disorder (HD) was proposed as a diagnosis in the DSM-5 and the classification 'Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder' is now presented as an impulse-control disorder in ICD-11. HD incorporates several pathophysiological mechanisms; including impulsivity, compulsivity, sexual desire dysregulation and sexual addiction. No previous study investigated HD in a methylation analysis limited to microRNA (miRNA) associated CpG-sites. The genome wide methylation pattern was measured in whole blood from 60 subjects with HD and 33 healthy volunteers using the Illumina EPIC BeadChip. 8,852 miRNA associated CpG-sites were investigated in multiple linear regression analyses of methylation M-values to a binary independent variable of disease state (HD or healthy volunteer), adjusting for optimally determined covariates. Expression levels of candidate miRNAs were investigated in the same individuals for differential expression analysis. Candidate methylation loci were further studied for an association with alcohol dependence in an independent cohort of 107 subjects. Two CpG-sites were borderline significant in HD - cg18222192 (MIR708)(p < 10E-05,pFDR = 5.81E-02) and cg01299774 (MIR4456)(p < 10E-06, pFDR = 5.81E-02). MIR4456 was significantly lower expressed in HD in both univariate (p < 0.0001) and multivariate (p < 0.05) analyses. Cg01299774 methylation levels were inversely correlated with expression levels of MIR4456 (p < 0.01) and were also differentially methylated in alcohol dependence (p = 0.026). Gene target prediction and pathway analysis revealed that MIR4456 putatively targets genes preferentially expressed in brain and that are involved in major neuronal molecular mechanisms thought to be relevant for HD, e.g., the oxytocin signalling pathway. In summary, our study implicates a potential contribution of MIR4456 in the pathophysiology of HD by putatively influencing oxytocin signalling.


DNA methylation; MIR4456; Methylome-wide; MicroRNA; differential methylation; epigenetic dysregulation; epigenetics; gene target prediction; hsa-miR-4456; hypersexual disorder; microRNA expression; microRNA-4456; oxytocin; oxytocin signaling; psychiatry

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