DNA Methylation Changes in Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Patients.

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BACKGROUND: Blood cancers may be potentially cured with hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT); however, standard pre-assessments for transplant eligibility do not capture all contributing factors for transplant outcomes. Epigenetic biomarkers predict outcomes in various diseases. This pilot study aims to explore epigenetic changes (epigenetic age and differentially methylated genes) in patients before and after autologous HCT, that can serve as potential biomarkers to better predict HCT outcomes.

METHODS: This study used a prospective longitudinal study design to compare genome wide DNA methylation changes in 36 autologous HCT eligible patients recruited from the Cellular Immunotherapies and Transplant clinic at a designated National Cancer Center.

RESULTS: Genome-wide DNA methylation, measured by the Illumina Infinium Human Methylation 850K BeadChip, showed a significant difference in DNA methylation patterns post-HCT compared to pre-HCT. Compared to baseline levels of DNA methylation pre-HCT, 3358 CpG sites were hypo-methylated and 3687 were hyper-methylated. Identified differentially methylated positions overlapped with genes involved in hematopoiesis, blood cancers, inflammation and immune responses. Enrichment analyses showed significant alterations in biological processes such as immune response and cell structure organization, however no significant pathways were noted. Though participants had an advanced epigenetic age compared to chronologic age before and after HCT, both epigenetic age and accelerated age decreased post-HCT.

CONCLUSION: Epigenetic changes, both in epigenetic age and differentially methylated genes were observed in autologous HCT recipients, and should be explored as biomarkers to predict transplant outcomes after autologous HCT in larger, longitudinal studies.

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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Medicine, Hematology-Medical Oncology Division

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