Research Paper Volume 12, Issue 21 pp 21777—21797
The immune and metabolic changes with age in giant panda blood by combined transcriptome and DNA methylation analysis
- 1 Farm Animal Genetic Resources Exploration and Innovation Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130, Sichuan, China
- 2 China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, Dujiangyan 611830, Sichuan, China
- 3 Key Laboratory of State Forestry and Grassland Administration on Conservation Biology of Rare Animals in The Giant Panda National Park, Dujiangyan 611830, Sichuan, China
Received: June 9, 2020 Accepted: August 14, 2020 Published: November 7, 2020https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.103990
How to Cite
Copyright: © 2020 Huang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is an endangered mammalian species. Exploring immune and metabolic changes that occur in giant pandas with age is important for their protection. In this study, we systematically investigated the physiological and biochemical indicators in blood, as well as the transcriptome, and methylation profiles of young, adult, and old giant pandas. The white blood cell (WBC), neutrophil (NEU) counts and hemoglobin (HGB) concentrations increased significantly with age (young to adult), and some indicators related to blood glucose and lipids also changed significantly with age. In the transcriptome analysis, differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were found in comparisons of the young and adult (257), adult and old (20), young and old (744) groups. Separation of the DEGs into eight profiles according to the expression trend using short time-series expression miner (STEM) software revealed that most DEGs were downregulated with age. Functional analysis showed that most DEGs were associated with disease and that these DEGs were also associated with the immune system and metabolism. Furthermore, gene methylation in giant pandas decreased globally with age, and the expression of CCNE1, CD79A, IL1R1, and TCF7 showed a highly negative correlation with their degree of methylation. These results indicate that the giant panda’s immune function improves gradually with age (young to adult), and that changes in the methylation profile are involved in the effects of age on immune and metabolic functions. These results have important implications for the understanding and conservation of giant pandas.