DNA Methylation and Ageing

Aside from the aforementioned associations of DNA methylation, recent work has shown that DNA methylation also exhibits strong correlations with age, the function of which is not yet known. Since genetic sequence accounts for less than 30 % of lifespan variation, the major driver of human longevity must be attributed to nongenetic factors such as diet, physical activity, smoking and other exposures [63,64].

Alterations in DNA methylation may occur as a result of the combination of programmed changes in cell type or function with age, the embedding of lifelong environmental exposures, and possible stochastic events over time. Given the combination of evidence that DNA methylation is involved in the embedding of past environments and the development of disease, and that the human methylome is age-sensitive, it seems likely that DNA methylation may have a functional role in ageing. An emerging possible functional role of these age-related epigenetic changes may, in part, play into the molecular pathway responsible for the decline in immune dysfunction observed with age [65]. Over the past years, work has focused on determining the relative contribution of specific environments and stochastic changes in altering DNA methylation patterns during ageing.

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