Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Genetic changes in brain areas before the immune cells accumulate

Huynh JL, Garg P, Thin TH, Yoo S, Dutta R, Trapp BD, Haroutunian V, Zhu J, Donovan MJ, Sharp AJ, Casaccia P. Epigenome-wide differences in pathology-free regions of multiple sclerosis-affected brains. Nat Neurosci. 2013 Nov 24. doi: 10.1038/nn.3588. [Epub ahead of print]


Using the Illumina 450K array and a stringent statistical analysis with age and gender correction, we report genome-wide differences in DNA methylation between pathology-free regions derived from human multiple sclerosis-affected and control brains. Differences were subtle, but widespread and reproducible in an independent validation cohort. The transcriptional consequences of differential DNA methylation were further defined by genome-wide RNA-sequencing analysis and validated in two independent cohorts. Genes regulating oligodendrocyte survival, such as BCL2L2 and NDRG1, were hypermethylated and expressed at lower levels in multiple sclerosis-affected brains than in controls, while genes related to proteolytic processing were hypomethylated and expressed at higher levels. These results were not due to differences in cellular composition between multiple sclerosis and controls. Thus, epigenomic changes in genes affecting oligodendrocyte susceptibility to damage are detected in pathology-free areas of multiple sclerosis-affected brains.
This study indicates that there are factors in the so called normal appearing white matter that are modifying the genes, which may influence what proteins cells they may make. What is causing this cytokines produced from some distance away or maybe the virus triggering MS 

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