Differential methylation of telomere-related genes is associated with kidney disease in individuals with type 1 diabetes

Claire Hill, Seamus Duffy, Laura M. Kettyle, Liane McGlynn, Niina Sandholm, Rany M. Salem, Alex Thompson, Elizabeth J. Swan, Jill Kilner, Peter Rossing, Paul G. Shiels, Maria Lajer, Per-Henrik Groop, Peter Maxwell, Amy Jayne McKnight*, on behalf of the GENIE Consortium

*Corresponding author for this work

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Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) represents a major global health problem. Accelerated ageing is a key feature of DKD and, therefore, characteristics of accelerated ageing may provide useful biomarkers or therapeutic targets. Harnessing multi-omics, features affecting telomere biology and any associated methylome dysregulation in DKD were explored. Genotype data for nuclear genome polymorphisms in telomere-related genes were extracted from genome-wide case–control association data (n = 823 DKD/903 controls; n = 247 end-stage kidney disease (ESKD)/1479 controls). Telomere length was established using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Quantitative methylation values for 1091 CpG sites in telomere-related genes were extracted from epigenome-wide case–control association data (n = 150 DKD/100 controls). Telomere length was significantly shorter in older age groups (p = 7.6 × 10−6). Telomere length was also significantly reduced (p = 6.6 × 10−5) in DKD versus control individuals, with significance remaining after covariate adjustment (p = 0.028). DKD and ESKD were nominally associated with telomere-related genetic variation, with Mendelian randomisation highlighting no significant association between genetically predicted telomere length and kidney disease. A total of 496 CpG sites in 212 genes reached epigenome-wide significance (p ≤ 10−8) for DKD association, and 412 CpG sites in 193 genes for ESKD. Functional prediction revealed differentially methylated genes were enriched for Wnt signalling involvement. Harnessing previously published RNA-sequencing datasets, potential targets where epigenetic dysregulation may result in altered gene expression were revealed, useful as potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1029
Number of pages28
Issue number5
Early online date30 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


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