Objective. The aetiology of Behcet's disease (BD), known as a systemic vasculitis, is not completely understood. Increasing evidence suggests that aberrant DNA methylation may contribute to the pathogenesis of BD. The aim of this epigenome-wide association study was to identify BD-associated methylation loci in Han Chinese.
Methods. Genome-wide DNA methylation profiles were compared between 60 BD patients and 60 healthy controls using the Infinium Human Methylation 450 K Beadchip. BD-associated methylation loci were validated in 100 BD patients and 100 healthy controls by pyrosequencing. Gene expression and cytokine production was quantified by real-time PCR and ELISA.
Results. A total of 4332 differentially methylated CpG sites were associated with BD. Five differentially methylated CpG sites (cg03546163, cg25114611, cg20228731, cg23261343 and cg14290576) revealed a significant hypomethylation status across four different genes (FKBP5, FLJ43663, RUNX2 and NFIL3) and were validated by pyrosequencing. Validation results showed that the most significant locus was located in the 5'UTR of FKBP5 (cg03546163, P = 3.81E-13). Four CpG sites with an aberrant methylation status, including cg03546163, cg25114611, cg23261343 and cg14290576, may serve as a diagnostic marker for BD (area under the receiver operating curve curve = 83.95%, 95% CI 78.20, 89.70%). A significantly inverse correlation was found between the degree of methylation at cg03546163 as well as cg25114611 and FKBP5 mRNA expression. Treatment with a demethylation agent, 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine resulted in an increase of FKBP5 mRNA expression and a stimulated IL-1 beta production.
Conclusion. Our findings suggest that aberrant DNA methylation, independently of previously known genetic variants, plays a vital role in the pathogenesis of BD.
- epigenome-wide association study
- DNA METHYLATION
- GENETIC RISK
- HUMAN FKBP51
- VKH SYNDROME