Background: Alzheimer's disease affects ~13% of people in the United States 65years and older, making it the most common neurodegenerative disorder. Recent work has identified roles for environmental, genetic, and epigenetic factors in Alzheimer's disease risk. Methods: We performed a genome-wide screen of DNA methylation using the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation450 platform on bulk tissue samples from the superior temporal gyrus of patients with Alzheimer's disease and non-demented controls. We paired a sliding window approach with multivariate linear regression to characterize Alzheimer's disease-associated differentially methylated regions (DMRs). Results: We identified 479 DMRs exhibiting a strong bias for hypermethylated changes, a subset of which were independently associated with aging. DMR intervals overlapped 475 RefSeq genes enriched for gene ontology categories with relevant roles in neuron function and development, as well as cellular metabolism, and included genes reported in Alzheimer's disease genome-wide and epigenome-wide association studies. DMRs were enriched for brain-specific histone signatures and for binding motifs of transcription factors with roles in the brain and Alzheimer's disease pathology. Notably, hypermethylated DMRs preferentially overlapped poised promoter regions, marked by H3K27me3 and H3K4me3, previously shown to co-localize with aging-associated hypermethylation. Finally, the integration of DMR-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms with Alzheimer's disease genome-wide association study risk loci and brain expression quantitative trait loci highlights multiple potential DMRs of interest for further functional analysis. Conclusion: We have characterized changes in DNA methylation in the superior temporal gyrus of patients with Alzheimer's disease, highlighting novel loci that facilitate better characterization of pathways and mechanisms underlying Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis, and improve our understanding of epigenetic signatures that may contribute to the development of disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalGenome Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 19 Jan 2016


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