Abstract

Epigenetic clocks are based on age-associated changes in DNA methylation of CpG-sites, which can accurately measure chronological age in different species. Recently, several studies have indicated that the difference between chronological and epigenetic age, defined as the age acceleration, could reflect biological age indicating functional decline and age-associated diseases. In humans, an epigenetic clock associated Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology with an acceleration of the epigenetic age. In this study, we developed and validated two mouse brain region-specific epigenetic clocks from the C57BL/6J hippocampus and cerebral cortex. Both clocks, which could successfully estimate chronological age, were further validated in a widely used mouse model for AD, the triple transgenic AD (3xTg-AD) mouse. We observed an epigenetic age acceleration indicating an increased biological age for the 3xTg-AD mice compared to non-pathological C57BL/6J mice, which was more pronounced in the cortex as compared to the hippocampus. Genomic region enrichment analysis revealed that age-dependent CpGs were enriched in genes related to developmental, aging-related, neuronal and neurodegenerative functions. Due to the limited access of human brain tissues, these epigenetic clocks specific for mouse cortex and hippocampus might be important in further unravelling the role of epigenetic mechanisms underlying AD pathology or brain aging in general.