Due to an aging population, the incidence of dementia is steadily rising. The ability to identify early markers in blood, which appear before the onset of clinical symptoms is of considerable interest to allow early intervention, particularly in "high risk" groups such as those with type 2 diabetes. Here, we present a longitudinal study of genome-wide DNA methylation in whole blood from 18 elderly individuals with type 2 diabetes who developed presymptomatic dementia within an 18-month period following baseline assessment and 18 age-, sex-, and education-matched controls who maintained normal cognitive function. We identified a significant overlap in methylomic differences between groups at baseline and follow-up, with 8 CpG sites being consistently differentially methylated above our nominal significance threshold before symptoms at baseline and at 18 months follow up, after a diagnosis of presymptomatic dementia. Finally, we report a significant overlap between DNA methylation differences identified in converters, only after they develop symptoms of dementia, with differences at the same loci in blood samples from patients with clinically diagnosed Alzheimer's disease compared with unaffected control subjects.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease (AD); Biomarker; Blood; DNA methylation; Dementia; Epigenetics; Type 2 diabetes.
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