An Evaluation of DNA Methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms and Chemotherapy-Associated Cognitive Impairment: A Prospective, Longitudinal Study

Sci Rep. 2019 Oct 10;9(1):14570. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-51203-y.


Strong evidence suggests that genetic variations in DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) may alter the downstream expression and DNA methylation patterns of neuronal genes and influence cognition. This study investigates the association between a DNMT1 polymorphism, rs2162560, and chemotherapy-associated cognitive impairment (CACI) in a cohort of breast cancer patients. This is a prospective, longitudinal cohort study. From 2011 to 2017, 351 early-stage breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy were assessed at baseline, the midpoint, and the end of chemotherapy. DNA was extracted from whole blood, and genotyping was performed using Sanger sequencing. Patients' self-perceived cognitive function and cognitive performance were assessed at three different time points using FACT-Cog (v.3) and a neuropsychological battery, respectively. The association between DNMT1 rs2162560 and cognitive function was evaluated using logistic regression analyses. Overall, 33.3% of the patients reported impairment relative to baseline in one or more cognitive domains. Cognitive impairment was observed in various objective cognitive domains, with incidences ranging from 7.2% to 36.9%. The DNMT1 rs2162560 A allele was observed in 21.8% of patients and this was associated with lower odds of self-reported cognitive decline in the concentration (OR = 0.45, 95% CI: 0.25-0.82, P = 0.01) and functional interference (OR = 0.48, 95% CI: 0.24-0.95, P = 0.03) domains. No significant association was observed between DNMT1 rs2162560 and objective cognitive impairment. This is the first study to show a significant association between the DNMT1 rs2162560 polymorphism and CACI. Our data suggest that epigenetic processes could contribute to CACI, and further studies are needed to validate these findings.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Cognition Disorders / chemically induced*
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferase 1 / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferase 1
  • DNMT1 protein, human