Epigenetic Risk Factors for Mild Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s Disease and Metabolic Dysfunction in Mexican Americans




Silzer, Talisa
Abraham Daniel, Ann
Sun, Jie
Phillips, Nicole
Johnson, Leigh
O'Bryant, Sid
Barber, Robert C.


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Purpose: Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and the 5th leading cause of death for those over 651. The population of Mexican American elders will grow seven-fold by 20502 with rates of mild cognitive decline (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) increasing exponentially1. Mexican Americans are diagnosed with MCI and AD at younger ages than non-Hispanic whites3; 4. In addition, Mexican Americans who are diagnosed with AD are 1) less likely to carry the ApoEε4 genotype3-5., 2) suffer a greater burden of type 2 diabetes3; 6, 3) experience greater metabolic-related cognitive decline7; 8 and 4) display a proteomic signature of AD that is heavily metabolic in nature4; 9, compared to non-Hispanic whites, whose proteomic signature for AD is dominated by inflammatory proteins. We hypothesized that differentially methylated regions of DNA (DMRs) are associated with age at onset of cognitive decline (MCI/AD) and metabolic dysfunction (metabolic syndrome/type 2 diabetes) in Mexican Americans. Methods: To test this hypothesis, we assayed genomic DNA methylation in samples from 14 female Mexican American participants enrolled in the Health and Aging Brain study in Latino Elders (HABLE). Participants were diagnosed with cognitive decline (n=4), metabolic dysfunction (n=3), both (n=4), or as a control (n=3). We isolated DNA from leukocytes and bisulfite treated the samples before running them on an Illumina MethylationEPIC chip in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations to assay genomic DNA methylation. Results: Several interesting biological pathways showed significantly different methylation status between groups. When the participants were split on cognitive decline, DNA in the amyloid secretase, EGF receptor signaling, PDGF signaling, gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor and Wnt signaling pathways were significantly hypermethylated in cases. In comparison, analyses based on metabolic dysfunction showed significant DNA hypomethylation in the beta1 and beta2 adrenergic receptor signaling pathways and hypomethylation of the gonadotropin releasing hormone receptor pathway in cases. Conclusions: The etiology of cognitive decline appears to differ between Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites. Future work will resolve how dementia risk differs between these and other ethnic groups. The knowledge gained from these studies will be critical to a better understanding of AD pathophysiology and the development of ethnicity-focused AD treatment options. Acknowledgements: Research reported here was supported by the National Institute On Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01AG054073. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The research team also thanks the local Fort Worth community and participants of the Health & Aging Brain Study.