Genome-wide DNA methylation profiling of CD8+ T cells shows a distinct epigenetic signature to CD4+ T cells in multiple sclerosis patients

Vicki E. Maltby, Moira C. Graves, Rodney A. Lea, Miles C. Benton, Katherine A. Sanders, Lotti Tajouri, Rodney J. Scott, Jeannette Lechner-Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to be a T cell-mediated autoimmune disorder. MS pathogenesis is likely due to a genetic predisposition triggered by a variety of environmental factors. Epigenetics, particularly DNA methylation, provide a logical interface for environmental factors to influence the genome. In this study we aim to identify DNA methylation changes associated with MS in CD8+ T cells in 30 relapsing remitting MS patients and 28 healthy blood donors using Illumina 450K methylation arrays. Findings: Seventy-nine differentially methylated CpGs were associated with MS. The methylation profile of CD8+ T cells was distinctive from our previously published data on CD4+ T cells in the same cohort. Most notably, there was no major CpG effect at the MS risk gene HLA-DRB1 locus in the CD8+ T cells. Conclusion: CD8+ T cells and CD4+ T cells have distinct DNA methylation profiles. This case-control study highlights the importance of distinctive cell subtypes when investigating epigenetic changes in MS and other complex diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118
JournalClinical Epigenetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2015


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