A DNA methylation (DNAm) signature (the “Horvath clock”) has been proposed as a measure of human chronological and biological age. We determined peripheral blood DNAm in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and assessed whether accelerated aging occurs in these patients. DNAm signatures were obtained in patients with biopsy-proven NASH and stage 2–3 fibrosis. The DNAm profile from one test and two validation cohorts served as controls. Age acceleration was calculated as the difference between DNAm age and the predicted age based on the linear model derived from controls. Hepatic collagen content was assessed by quantitative morphometry. The Horvath clock accurately predicts the chronological age of the entire cohort. Age acceleration was observed among NASH subjects compared with control data sets and our test controls. Age acceleration in NASH subjects did not differ by fibrosis stage but correlated with hepatic collagen content. A set of 152 differentially methylated CpG islands between NASH subjects and controls identified gene set enrichment for transcription factors and developmental pathways. Patients with NASH exhibit epigenetic age acceleration that correlates with hepatic collagen content.
Rohit Loomba, Yevgeniy Gindin, Zhaoshi Jiang, Eric Lawitz, Stephen Caldwell, C. Stephen Djedjos, Ren Xu, Chuhan Chung, Robert P. Myers, G. Mani Subramanian, Zachary Goodman, Michael Charlton, Nezam H. Afdhal, Anna Mae Diehl