Age-related DNA methylation changes for forensic age-prediction
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There is no available method of age-prediction for biological samples. The accumulating evidences indicate that DNA methylation patterns change with age. Aging resembles a developmentally regulated process that is tightly controlled by specific epigenetic modifications and age-associated methylation changes exist in human genome. In this study, three age-related methylation fragments were isolated and identified in blood of 40 donors. Age-related methylation changes with each fragment was validated and replicated in a general population sample of 65 donors over a wide age range (11–72 years). Methylation of these fragments is linearly correlated with age over a range of six decades (r = 0.80–0.88). Using average methylation of CpG sites of three fragments, a regression model that explained 95 % of the variance in age was built and is able to predict an individual’s age with great accuracy (R 2 = 0.93). The predicted value is highly correlated with the observed age in the sample (r = 0.96) and has great accuracy of average 4 years difference between predicted age and true age. This study implicates that DNA methylation can be an available biological marker of age-prediction. Further measurement of relevant markers in the genome could be a tool in routine screening to predict age of forensic biological samples.
KeywordsDNA methylation Age-prediction Forensic markers Human blood
This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 30772291, 81373250, and 81202386), the Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province (No. 2010CDB03201), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, HUST: Nos. 2011JC050 and 2013TS111.
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