Epigenome-wide association study of narcolepsy-affected lateral hypothalamic brain and overlapping DNA methylation profiles between narcolepsy and multiple sclerosis.

Shimada M , Miyagawa T , Takeshima A , Kakita A , Toyoda H , Niizato K , Oshima K , Tokunaga K , Honda M
Narcolepsy with cataplexy is a sleep disorder caused by a deficiency in hypocretin neurons in the lateral hypothalamus (LH). Here we performed an epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of DNA methylation for narcolepsy and replication analyses using DNA samples extracted from two brain regions: LH (Cases: N=4, Controls: N=4) and temporal cortex (Cases: N=7, Controls: N=7). Seventy-seven differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were identified in the LH analysis, with the top association of a DMR in the myelin basic protein (MBP) region. Only five DMRs were detected in the temporal cortex analysis. Genes annotated to LH DMRs were significantly associated with pathways related to fatty acid response or metabolism. Two additional analyses applying the EWAS data were performed: i) investigation of methylation profiles shared between narcolepsy and other disorders and ii) an integrative analysis of DNA methylation data and a genome-wide association study for narcolepsy. The results of the two approaches, which included significant overlap of methylated positions associated with narcolepsy and multiple sclerosis, indicated that the two diseases may partly share their pathogenesis. In conclusion, DNA methylation in LH where loss of orexin-producing neurons occurs may play a role in the pathophysiology of the disease.

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