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DNA Methylation Status Predicts Mortality

20. March 2017, dkfz 
Methyl labels in the DNA regulate the activity of our genes and, thus, have a great influence on health and disease. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center and from the Saarland cancer registry have now revealed that an altered methylation status at only ten specific sites in the genome can indicate that mortality is increased by up to seven times. Smoking has a particularly unfavorable impact on the methylation status.

In their present study, the researchers investigated the cases of 1,900 participants of two epidemiological studies called ESTHER and KORA*. They used DNA from blood cells as the basis of their investigation. All study subjects were older adults and had provided blood samples when they entered the study. This was up to 14 years ago and many of them had died since then.

Of the 58 CpGs, the scientists selected those ten with the strongest correlation with mortality. This epigenetic risk profile alone enabled them to predict the so-called all-cause mortality (cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and others). Study participants whose genome exhibited an "unfavorable" methylation status at five or more of these sites had a risk of death within the 14-year observation period that was seven times that of study participants whose methylation at these positions showed no abnormalities.

Source: dkfz German Cancer Research Center


 

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