Clin Epigenetics. 2023 Oct 27;15(1):173. doi: 10.1186/s13148-023-01589-4.
BACKGROUND: Insulin resistance (IR) is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia. The mechanisms by which IR predisposes to AD are not well-understood. Epigenetic studies may help identify molecular signatures of IR associated with AD, thus improving our understanding of the biological and regulatory mechanisms linking IR and AD.
METHODS: We conducted an epigenome-wide association study of IR, quantified using the homeostatic model assessment of IR (HOMA-IR) and adjusted for body mass index, in 3,167 participants from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) without type 2 diabetes at the time of blood draw used for methylation measurement. We identified DNA methylation markers associated with IR at the genome-wide level accounting for multiple testing (P < 1.1 × 10-7) and evaluated their association with neurological traits in participants from the FHS (N = 3040) and the Religious Orders Study/Memory and Aging Project (ROSMAP, N = 707). DNA methylation profiles were measured in blood (FHS) or dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (ROSMAP) using the Illumina HumanMethylation450 BeadChip. Linear regressions (ROSMAP) or mixed-effects models accounting for familial relatedness (FHS) adjusted for age, sex, cohort, self-reported race, batch, and cell type proportions were used to assess associations between DNA methylation and neurological traits accounting for multiple testing.
RESULTS: We confirmed the strong association of blood DNA methylation with IR at three loci (cg17901584-DHCR24, cg17058475-CPT1A, cg00574958-CPT1A, and cg06500161-ABCG1). In FHS, higher levels of blood DNA methylation at cg00574958 and cg17058475 were both associated with lower IR (P = 2.4 × 10-11 and P = 9.0 × 10-8), larger total brain volumes (P = 0.03 and P = 9.7 × 10-4), and smaller log lateral ventricular volumes (P = 0.07 and P = 0.03). In ROSMAP, higher levels of brain DNA methylation at the same two CPT1A markers were associated with greater risk of cognitive impairment (P = 0.005 and P = 0.02) and higher AD-related indices (CERAD score: P = 5 × 10-4 and 0.001; Braak stage: P = 0.004 and P = 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest potentially distinct epigenetic regulatory mechanisms between peripheral blood and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex tissues underlying IR and AD at CPT1A locus.