Age-related epigenetic changes in hippocampal subregions of four animal models of Alzheimer's disease


Roy Lardenoije, Daniël L.A. van den Hove, Monique Havermans, Annevan Casteren, Kevin X. Le, Roberta Palmour, Cynthia A. Lemere, Bart P.F. Rutten


Both aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD) are associated with widespread epigenetic changes, with most evidence suggesting global hypomethylation in AD. It is, however, unclear how these age-related epigenetic changes are linked to molecular aberrations as expressed in animal models of AD. Here, we investigated age-related changes of epigenetic markers of DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation in a range of animal models of AD, and their correlations with amyloid plaque load. Three transgenic mouse models, including the J20, APP/PS1dE9 and 3xTg-AD models, as well as Caribbean vervets (a non-transgenic non-human primate model of AD) were investigated. In the J20 mouse model, an age-related decrease in DNA methylation was found in the dentate gyrus (DG) and a decrease in the ratio between DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation was found in the DG and cornu ammonis (CA) 3. In the 3xTg-AD mice, an age-related increase in DNA methylation was found in the DG and CA1-2. No significant age-related alterations were found in the APP/PS1dE9 mice and non-human primate model. In the J20 model, hippocampal plaque load showed a significant negative correlation with DNA methylation in the DG, and with the ratio a negative correlation in the DG and CA3. For the APP/PS1dE9 model a negative correlation between the ratio and plaque load was observed in the CA3, as well as a negative correlation between DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) levels and plaque load in the DG and CA3. Thus, only the J20 model showed an age-related reduction in global DNA methylation, while DNA hypermethylation was observed in the 3xTg-AD model. Given these differences between animal models, future studies are needed to further elucidate the contribution of different AD-related genetic variation to age-related epigenetic changes.