Distinctive patterns of DNA methylation associated with Parkinson disease: identification of concordant epigenetic changes in brain and peripheral blood leukocytes

Epigenetics. 2013 Oct;8(10):1030-8. doi: 10.4161/epi.25865. Epub 2013 Aug 1.


Parkinson disease (PD) is a multifactorial neurodegenerative disorder with high incidence in the elderly, where environmental and genetic factors are involved in etiology. In addition, epigenetic mechanisms, including deregulation of DNA methylation have been recently associated to PD. As accurate diagnosis cannot be achieved pre-mortem, identification of early pathological changes is crucial to enable therapeutic interventions before major neuropathological damage occurs. Here we investigated genome-wide DNA methylation in brain and blood samples from PD patients and observed a distinctive pattern of methylation involving many genes previously associated to PD, therefore supporting the role of epigenetic alterations as a molecular mechanism in neurodegeneration. Importantly, we identified concordant methylation alterations in brain and blood, suggesting that blood might hold promise as a surrogate for brain tissue to detect DNA methylation in PD and as a source for biomarker discovery.

Keywords: DNA methylation; Parkinson disease; brain; epigenetics; genome-wide methylation; neurodegeneration; peripheral blood leukocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Parkinson Disease / blood
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers