Associations between CD70 methylation of T cell DNA and age in adults with systemic lupus erythematosus and population controls: The Michigan Lupus Epidemiology & Surveillance (MILES) Program

J Autoimmun. 2024 Jan:142:103137. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2023.103137. Epub 2023 Dec 8.


Background: Environmental factors can influence epigenetic regulation, including DNA methylation, potentially contributing to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) development and progression. We compared methylation of the B cell costimulatory CD70 gene, in persons with lupus and controls, and characterized associations with age.

Results: In 297 adults with SLE and 92 controls from the Michigan Lupus Epidemiology and Surveillance (MILES) Cohort, average CD70 methylation of CD4+ T cell DNA across 10 CpG sites based on pyrosequencing of the promoter region was higher for persons with SLE compared to controls, accounting for covariates [β = 2.3, p = 0.011]. Using Infinium MethylationEPIC array data at 18 CD70-annoted loci (CD4+ and CD8+ T cell DNA), sites within the promoter region tended to be hypomethylated in SLE, while those within the gene region were hypermethylated. In SLE but not controls, age was significantly associated with pyrosequencing-based CD70 methylation: for every year increase in age, methylation increased by 0.14 percentage points in SLE, accounting for covariates. Also within SLE, CD70 methylation approached a significantly higher level in Black persons compared to White persons (β = 1.8, p = 0.051).

Conclusions: We describe altered CD70 methylation patterns in T lymphocyte subsets in adults with SLE relative to controls, and report associations particular to SLE between methylation of this immune-relevant gene and both age and race, possibly a consequence of "weathering" or accelerated aging which may have implications for SLE pathogenesis and potential intervention strategies.

Keywords: Aging; Autoimmunity; CD4(+); CD8(+); Epidemiology; Epigenetics; Immunoepidemiology; TNFSF7.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD27 Ligand / genetics
  • CD27 Ligand / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • DNA
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / epidemiology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / genetics
  • Michigan / epidemiology


  • DNA
  • CD70 protein, human
  • CD27 Ligand