Differential ESR1 Promoter Methylation in the Peripheral Blood-Findings from the Women 40+ Healthy Aging Study

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 May 21;21(10):3654. doi: 10.3390/ijms21103654.


Background Estrogen receptor α (ERα) contributes to maintaining biological processes preserving health during aging. DNA methylation changes of ERα gene (ESR1) were established as playing a direct role in the regulation of ERα levels. In this study, we hypothesized decreased DNA methylation of ESR1 associated with postmenopause, lower estradiol (E2) levels, and increased age among healthy middle-aged and older women. Methods We assessed DNA methylation of ESR1 promoter region from dried blood spots (DBSs) and E2 from saliva samples in 130 healthy women aged 40-73 years. Results We found that postmenopause and lower E2 levels were associated with lower DNA methylation of a distal regulatory region, but not with DNA methylation of proximal promoters. Conclusion Our results indicate that decreased methylation of ESR1 cytosine-phosphate-guanine island (CpGI) shore may be associated with conditions of lower E2 in older healthy women.

Keywords: CpGI shore; DNA methylation; ESR1 promoter; estradiol; women healthy aging.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / genetics*
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / genetics*
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic


  • ESR1 protein, human
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha