Landscape of genome-wide age-related DNA methylation in breast tissue

Min Ae Song, Theodore M. Brasky, Daniel Y. Weng, Joseph P. McElroy, Catalin Marian, Michael J. Higgins, Christine Ambrosone, Scott L. Spear, Adana Llanos Wilson, Bhaskar V.S. Kallakury, Jo L. Freudenheim, Peter G. Shields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Despite known age-related DNA methylation (aDNAm) changes in breast tumors, little is known about aDNAm in normal breast tissues. Breast tissues from a crosssectional study of 121 cancer-free women, were assayed for genome-wide DNA methylation. mRNA expression was assayed by microarray technology. Analysis of covariance was used to identify aDNAm's. Altered methylation was correlated with expression of the corresponding gene and with DNA methyltransferase protein DNMT3A, assayed by immunohistochemistry. Publically-available TCGA-BRCA data were used for replication. 1,214 aDNAm's were identified; 97% with increased methylation, and all on autosomes. Sites with increased methylation were predominantly in CpG lslands and nonenhancers. aDNAm's with decreased methylation were generally located in intergenic regions, non-CpG Islands, and enhancers. Of the aDNAm's identified, 650 are known to be involved in cancer, including ESR1 and beta-estradiol responsive genes. Expression of DNMT3A was positively associated with age. Two aDNAm's showed borderline significant associations with DNMT3A expression; KRR1 (OR 6.57, 95% CI: 2.51-17.23) and DHRS12 (OR 6.08, 95% CI: 2.33-15.86). A subset of aDNAm's co-localized within vulnerable regions for somatic mutations in cancers including breast cancer. Expression of C19orf48 was inversely and significantly correlated with its methylation level. In the TCGA dataset, 84% and 64% of the previously identified aDNAm's were correlated with age in both normal-adjacent and tumor breast tissues, with differential associations by histological subtype. Given the similarity of findings in the breast tissues of healthy women and breast tumors, aDNAm's may be one pathway for increased breast cancer risk with age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114648-114662
Number of pages15
Issue number70
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology


  • Age
  • Breast
  • Cancer
  • Genome-wide DNA methylation
  • Normal

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