DNA methylation and cognitive aging

Xiangru Xu _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:13922-13932. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4215

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Xiangru Xu1,2

1 Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, Cologne, Germany

2 Department of Anesthesiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

Correspondence to:

Xiangru Xu, email:

Keywords: epigenetics, neurodegeneration, bisulfite DNA methyl-sequencing, transcriptional regulation, neuronal genes

Received: March 04, 2015 Accepted: May 12, 2015 Published: May 20, 2015


With ever-increasing elder population, the high incidence of age-related diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders has turned out to be a huge public concern. Especially the elders and their families dreadfully suffer from the learning, behavioral and cognitive impairments. The lack of effective therapies for such a horrible symptom makes a great demanding for biological mechanism study for cognitive aging. Epigenetics is an emerging field that broadens the dimensions of mammalian genome blueprint. It is, unlike genetics, not only inheritable but also reversible. Recent studies suggest that DNA methylation, one of major epigenetic mechanisms, plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of age-related neurodegenerations and cognitive defects. In this review, the evolving knowledge of age-related cognitive functions and the potential DNA methylation mechanism of cognitive aging are discussed. That indicates the impairment of DNA methylation may be a crucial but reversible mechanism of behavioral and cognitive related neurodegeneration. The methods to examine the dynamics of DNA methylation patterns at tissue and single cell level and at the representative scale as well as the whole genome single base resolution are also briefly discussed. Importantly, the challenges of DNA methylation mechanism of cognitive aging research are brought up, and the possible solutions to tackle these difficulties are put forward.

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