Aging is a progressive process that results in the accumulation of intra- and extracellular alterations that in turn contribute to a reduction in health. Age-related changes in DNA methylation have been reported before and may be responsible for aging-induced changes in gene expression, although a causal relationship has yet to be shown. Using genome-wide assays, we analyzed age-induced changes in DNA methylation and their effect on gene expression with and without transient induction with the synthetic transcription modulating agent WY14,643. To demonstrate feasibility of the approach, we isolated peripheral blood mononucleated cells (PBMCs) from five young and five old healthy male volunteers and cultured them with or without WY14,643. Infinium 450K BeadChip and Affymetrix Human Gene 1.1 ST expression array analysis revealed significant differential methylation of at least 5 % (ΔYO > 5 %) at 10,625 CpG sites between young and old subjects, but only a subset of the associated genes were also differentially expressed. Age-related differential methylation of previously reported epigenetic biomarkers of aging including ELOVL2, FHL2, PENK, and KLF14 was confirmed in our study, but these genes did not display an age-related change in gene expression in PBMCs. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that differentially methylated genes that lack an age-related expression change predominantly represent genes involved in carcinogenesis and developmental processes, and expression of most of these genes were silenced in PBMCs. No changes in DNA methylation were found in genes displaying transiently induced changes in gene expression. In conclusion, aging-induced differential methylation often targets developmental genes and occurs mostly without change in gene expression.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-014-9648-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
BackgroundFolate and its synthetic form folic acid function as donor of one-carbon units and have been, together with other B-vitamins, implicated in programming of epigenetic processes such as DNA methylation during early development. To what extent regulation of DNA methylation can be altered via B-vitamins later in life, and how this relates to health and disease, is not exactly known. The aim of this study was to identify effects of long-term supplementation with folic acid and vitamin B12 on genome-wide DNA methylation in elderly subjects.This project was part of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial on effects of supplemental intake of folic acid and vitamin B12 on bone fracture incidence (B-vitamins for the PRevention Of Osteoporotic Fractures (B-PROOF) study). Participants with mildly elevated homocysteine levels, aged 65–75 years, were randomly assigned to take 400 μg folic acid and 500 μg vitamin B12 per day or a placebo during an intervention period of 2 years. DNA was isolated from buffy coats, collected before and after intervention, and genome-wide DNA methylation was determined in 87 participants (n = 44 folic acid/vitamin B12, n = 43 placebo) using the Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip.ResultsAfter intervention with folic acid and vitamin B12, 162 (versus 14 in the placebo group) of the 431,312 positions were differentially methylated as compared to baseline. Comparisons of the DNA methylation changes in the participants receiving folic acid and vitamin B12 versus placebo revealed one single differentially methylated position (cg19380919) with a borderline statistical significance. However, based on the analyses of differentially methylated regions (DMRs) consisting of multiple positions, we identified 6 regions that differed statistically significantly between the intervention and placebo group. Pronounced changes were found for regions in the DIRAS3, ARMC8, and NODAL genes, implicated in carcinogenesis and early embryonic development.Furthermore, serum levels of folate and vitamin B12 or plasma homocysteine were related to DNA methylation of 173, 425, and 11 regions, respectively. Interestingly, for several members of the developmental HOX genes, DNA methylation was related to serum levels of folate.ConclusionsLong-term supplementation with folic acid and vitamin B12 in elderly subjects resulted in effects on DNA methylation of several genes, among which genes implicated in developmental processes.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13148-015-0154-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
We studied the bacterial response to Fe fertilization over 3 weeks during the second iron-enrichment experiment (EisenEx) in the Southern Ocean. Bacterial abundance in the Fe-fertilized patch increased over the first 12 d following Fe release and remained about twice as high as outside the Fe-fertilized patch until the end of the experiment. Bacterial production peaked a few days after each of the three Fe releases inside the Fe-fertilized patch, reaching rates two to three times higher than outside the patch. Besides the peaks in leucine and thymidine incorporation following Fe release, bacterial production was not significantly higher inside the patch than outside, suggesting direct limitation of bacterial growth by Fe. Bacterial aminopeptidase activity roughly followed the increase in bacterial abundance, whereas cell-specific ␣-and ␤-glucosidase were higher inside the Fe-fertilized patch. The diversity of ␤-glucosidases was determined by capillary electrophoresis zymography. The different ␤-glucosidases showed much higher activity levels inside the patch than in the surrounding waters, and three additional ␤-glucosidases constituting ϳ55% of the total ␤-glucosidase activity were present inside the Fe-fertilized patch from day 9 onward. No major changes in response to Fe fertilization were detected in the phylogenetic composition of the bacterioplankton community, as determined by 16S rDNA fingerprinting, indicating a remarkable adaptation of the bacterioplankton community to episodic iron inputs. This stability on the phylogenetic level is contrasted by the dramatic qualitative and quantitative changes in ectoenzymatic activity.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSEN-docosahexaenoylethanolamine (DHEA) is the ethanolamine conjugate of the long-chain polyunsaturated n-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic (DHA; 22: 6n-3). Its concentration in animal tissues and human plasma increases when diets rich in fish or krill oil are consumed. DHEA displays anti-inflammatory properties in vitro and was found to be released during an inflammatory response in mice. Here, we further examine possible targets involved in the immune-modulating effects of DHEA. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACHAntagonists for cannabinoid (CB)1 and CB2 receptors and PPARγ were used to explore effects of DHEA on NO release by LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. The possible involvement of CB2 receptors was studied by comparing effects in LPS-stimulated peritoneal macrophages obtained from CB2 −/− and CB2 +/+ mice. Effects on NF-κB activation were determined using a reporter cell line. To study DHEA effects on COX-2 and lipoxygenase activity, 21 different eicosanoids produced by LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 cells were quantified by LC-MS/MS. Finally, effects on mRNA expression profiles were analysed using gene arrays followed by Ingenuity ® Pathways Analysis. KEY RESULTSCB1 and CB2 receptors or PPARs were not involved in the effects of DHEA on NO release. NF-κB and IFN-β, key elements of the myeloid differentiation primary response protein D88 (MyD88)-dependent and MyD88-independent pathways were not decreased. By contrast, DHEA significantly reduced levels of several COX-2-derived eicosanoids. Gene expression analysis provided support for an effect on COX-2-mediated pathways.
BackgroundThere is increasing appreciation for sexually dimorphic effects, but the molecular mechanisms underlying these effects are only partially understood. In the present study, we explored transcriptomics and epigenetic differences in the small intestine and colon of prepubescent male and female mice. In addition, the microbiota composition of the colonic luminal content has been examined.MethodsAt postnatal day 14, male and female C57BL/6 mice were sacrificed and the small intestine, colon and content of luminal colon were isolated. Gene expression of both segments of the intestine was analysed by microarray analysis. DNA methylation of the promoter regions of selected sexually dimorphic genes was examined by pyrosequencing. Composition of the microbiota was explored by deep sequencing.ResultsSexually dimorphic genes were observed in both segments of the intestine of 2-week-old mouse pups, with a stronger effect in the small intestine. Amongst the total of 349 genes displaying a sexually dimorphic effect in the small intestine and/or colon, several candidates exhibited a previously established function in the intestine (i.e. Nts, Nucb2, Alox5ap and Retnlγ). In addition, differential expression of genes linked to intestinal bowel disease (i.e. Ccr3, Ccl11 and Tnfr) and colorectal cancer development (i.e. Wt1 and Mmp25) was observed between males and females. Amongst the genes displaying significant sexually dimorphic expression, nine genes were histone-modifying enzymes, suggesting that epigenetic mechanisms might be a potential underlying regulatory mechanism. However, our results reveal no significant changes in DNA methylation of analysed CpGs within the selected differentially expressed genes. With respect to the bacterial community composition in the colon, a dominant effect of litter origin was found but no significant sex effect was detected. However, a sex effect on the dominance of specific taxa was observed.ConclusionsThis study reveals molecular dissimilarities between males and females in the small intestine and colon of prepubescent mice, which might underlie differences in physiological functioning and in disease predisposition in the two sexes.
Fibroblast growth factor 21 (Fgf21) has emerged as a potential plasma marker to diagnose non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). To study the molecular processes underlying the association of plasma Fgf21 with NAFLD, we explored the liver transcriptome data of a mild NAFLD model of aging C57BL/6J mice at 12, 24, and 28 months of age. The plasma Fgf21 level significantly correlated with intrahepatic triglyceride content. At the molecular level, elevated plasma Fgf21 levels were associated with dysregulated metabolic and cancer-related pathways. The up-regulated Fgf21 levels in NAFLD were implied to be a protective response against the NAFLD-induced adverse effects, e.g. lipotoxicity, oxidative stress and endoplasmic reticulum stress. An in vivo PPARα challenge demonstrated the dysregulation of PPARα signalling in the presence of NAFLD, which resulted in a stochastically increasing hepatic expression of Fgf21. Notably, elevated plasma Fgf21 was associated with declining expression of Klb, Fgf21’s crucial co-receptor, which suggests a resistance to Fgf21. Therefore, although liver fat accumulation is a benign stage of NAFLD, the elevated plasma Fgf21 likely indicated vulnerability to metabolic stressors that may contribute towards progression to end-stage NAFLD. In conclusion, plasma levels of Fgf21 reflect liver fat accumulation and dysregulation of metabolic pathways in the liver.
BackgroundBy regulating digestion and absorption of nutrients and providing a barrier against the external environment the intestine provides a crucial contribution to the maintenance of health. To what extent aging-related changes in the intestinal system contribute to the functional decline associated with aging is still under debate.MethodsYoung (4 M) and old (21 M) male C57BL/6J mice were fed a control low-fat (10E%) or a high-fat diet (45E%) for 2 weeks. During the intervention gross energy intake and energy excretion in the feces were measured. After sacrifice the small and large intestine were isolated and the small intestine was divided in three equal parts. Swiss rolls were prepared of each of the isolated segments for histological analysis and the luminal content was isolated to examine alterations in the microflora with 16S rRNA Q-PCR. Furthermore, mucosal scrapings were isolated from each segment to determine differential gene expression by microarray analysis and global DNA methylation by pyrosequencing.ResultsDigestible energy intake was similar between the two age groups on both the control and the high-fat diet. Microarray analysis on RNA from intestinal scrapings showed no marked changes in expression of genes involved in metabolic processes. Decreased expression of Cubilin was observed in the intestine of 21-month-old mice, which might contribute to aging-induced vitamin B12 deficiency. Furthermore, microarray data analysis revealed enhanced expression of a large number of genes involved in immune response and inflammation in the colon, but not in the small intestine of the 21-month-old mice. Aging-induced global hypomethylation was observed in the colon and the distal part of the small intestine, but not in the first two sections of the small intestine.ConclusionIn 21-month old mice the most pronounced effects of aging were observed in the colon, whereas very few changes were observed in the small intestine.
The aging process is associated with diminished colonic health. In this study, we applied an integrative approach to reveal potential interactions between determinants of colonic health in aging C57BL/6J mice. Analysis of gut microbiota composition revealed an enrichment of various potential pathobionts, including Desulfovibrio spp., and a decline of the health-promoting Akkermansia spp. and Lactobacillus spp. during aging. Intraluminal concentrations of various metabolites varied between ages and we found evidence for an increased gut permeability at higher age. Colonic gene expression analysis suggested that during the early phase of aging (between 6 and 12 months), expression of genes involved in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and (re)organization of the extracellular matrix were increased. Differential expression of these genes was strongly correlated with Bifidobacterium spp. During the later phase of aging (between 12 and 28 months), gene expression profiles pointed towards a diminished antimicrobial defense and were correlated with an uncultured Gastranaerophilales spp. This study demonstrates that aging is associated with pronounced changes in gut microbiota composition and colonic gene expression. Furthermore, the strong correlations between specific bacterial genera and host gene expression may imply that orchestrated interactions take place in the vicinity of the colonic wall and potentially mediate colonic health during aging.
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