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Epigenetics and stroke: role of DNA methylation and effect of aging onblood-brain barrier recovery.


Phillips C. et al.

Incomplete recovery of blood-brain barrier (BBB) function contributes to stroke outcomes. How the BBB recovers after stroke remains largely unknown. Emerging evidence suggests that epigenetic factors play a significant role in regulating post-stroke BBB recovery. This study aimed to evaluate the epigenetic and transcriptional profile of cerebral microvessels after thromboembolic (TE) stroke to define potential causes of limited BBB recovery. RNA-sequencing and reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) analyses were performed using microvessels isolated from young (6 months) and old (18 months) mice seven days poststroke compared to age-matched sham controls. DNA methylation profiling of poststroke brain microvessels revealed 11287 differentially methylated regions (DMR) in old and 9818 DMR in young mice, corresponding to annotated genes. These DMR were enriched in genes encoding cell structural proteins (e.g., cell junction, and cell polarity, actin cytoskeleton, extracellular matrix), transporters and channels (e.g., potassium transmembrane transporter, organic anion and inorganic cation transporters, calcium ion transport), and proteins involved in endothelial cell processes (e.g., angiogenesis/vasculogenesis, cell signaling and transcription regulation). Integrated analysis of methylation and RNA sequencing identified changes in cell junctions (occludin), actin remodeling (ezrin) as well as signaling pathways like Rho GTPase (RhoA and Cdc42ep4). Aging as a hub of aberrant methylation affected BBB recovery processes by profound alterations (hypermethylation and repression) in structural protein expression (e.g., claudin-5) as well as activation of a set of genes involved in endothelial to mesenchymal transformation (e.g., , ), repression of angiogenesis and epigenetic regulation. These findings revealed that DNA methylation plays an important role in regulating BBB repair after stroke, through regulating processes associated with BBB restoration and prevalently with processes enhancing BBB injury.

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Published
January, 2023

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