Targeted-bisulfite sequence analysis of the methylation of CpG islands in genes encoding PNPLA3, SAMM50, and PARVB of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

J Hepatol. 2015 Aug;63(2):494-502. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2015.02.049. Epub 2015 Mar 14.


Background & aims: The pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is affected by epigenetic factors as well as by genetic variation.

Methods: We performed targeted-bisulfite sequencing to determine the levels of DNA methylation of 4 CpG islands (CpG99, CpG71, CpG26, and CpG101) in the regulatory regions of PNPLA3, SAMM50, PARVB variant 1, and PARVB variant 2, respectively. We compared the levels of methylation of DNA in the livers of the first and second sets of patients with mild (fibrosis stages 0 and 1) or advanced (fibrosis stages 2 to 4) NAFLD and in those of patients with mild (F0 to F2) or advanced (F3 and F4) chronic hepatitis C infection. The hepatic mRNA levels of PNPLA3, SAMM50, and PARVB were measured using qPCR.

Results: CpG26, which resides in the regulatory region of PARVB variant 1, was markedly hypomethylated in the livers of patients with advanced NAFLD. Conversely, CpG99 in the regulatory region of PNPLA3 was substantially hypermethylated in these patients. These differences in DNA methylation were replicated in a second set of patients with NAFLD or chronic hepatitis C. PNPLA3 mRNA levels in the liver of the same section of a biopsy specimen used for genomic DNA preparation were lower in patients with advanced NAFLD compared with those with mild NAFLD and correlated inversely with CpG99 methylation in liver DNA. Moreover, the levels of CpG99 methylation and PNPLA3 mRNA were affected by the rs738409 genotype.

Conclusions: Hypomethylation of CpG26 and hypermethylation of CpG99 may contribute to the severity of fibrosis in patients with NAFLD or chronic hepatitis C infection.

Keywords: DNA methylation; Fibrosis; Next-generation sequencing; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; PARVB; PNPLA3; SAMM50.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actinin / genetics*
  • Actinin / metabolism
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Lipase / genetics*
  • Lipase / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / genetics*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*


  • Membrane Proteins
  • PARVB protein, human
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Actinin
  • DNA
  • Lipase
  • adiponutrin, human