Aging and nutrition induce tissue-specific changes on global DNA methylation status in rats

Francesco Guarasci, Patrizia D'Aquila, Maurizio Mandalà, Sabrina Garasto, Fabrizia Lattanzio, Andrea Corsonello, Giuseppe Passarino, Dina Bellizzi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A number of epigenetic studies have demonstrated that DNA methylation patterns exhibit a tissue specificity, but not much has been done to highlight the extent of this phenomenon. Moreover, it is unknown how external factors modulate the plasticity of the tissue specific epigenetic profile. We examined global DNA methylation profiles in tissues from rats of different age, fed with standard or low-calorie diet, and evaluated their association with aging and nutrition. Tissue-specific variations occur during aging with hyper-methylation taking place in all tissues except for liver. The expression of enzymes involved in methylation reactions (DNMTs and TETs) was consistent with the methylation patterns. Nutrition affects global DNA methylation status throughout lifespan. Interestingly, the differences among different tissues are magnified in 96 weeks old rats fed with low calorie diet. Moreover, the low-calorie diet appears to affect the offspring's epigenetic status more strongly if administered during the maternal pre-gestational period than the gestational and lactation time. Therefore, we propose that changes in the global DNA methylation status may represent an epigenetic mechanism by which age and nutrition intersect each other and, in turn, influence the aging plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-54
Number of pages8
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Aging
  • Global DNA methylation
  • Low-calorie diet
  • Maternal pre-gestational/gestational diet
  • Nutrition
  • Tissue specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Developmental Biology


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