Methylation of HPA axis related genes in men with hypersexual disorder.

Jokinen J, Boström AE, Chatzittofis A, Ciuculete DM, Öberg KG, Flanagan JN, Arver S, Schiöth HB

Psychoneuroendocrinology 80 (-) 67-73 [2017-06-00; online 2017-03-10]

Hypersexual Disorder (HD) defined as non-paraphilic sexual desire disorder with components of compulsivity, impulsivity and behavioral addiction, and proposed as a diagnosis in the DSM 5, shares some overlapping features with substance use disorder including common neurotransmitter systems and dysregulated hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function. In this study, comprising 67 HD male patients and 39 male healthy volunteers, we aimed to identify HPA-axis coupled CpG-sites, in which modifications of the epigenetic profile are associated with hypersexuality. The genome-wide methylation pattern was measured in whole blood using the Illumina Infinium Methylation EPIC BeadChip, measuring the methylation state of over 850K CpG sites. Prior to analysis, the global DNA methylation pattern was pre-processed according to standard protocols and adjusted for white blood cell type heterogeneity. We included CpG sites located within 2000bp of the transcriptional start site of the following HPA-axis coupled genes: Corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), corticotropin releasing hormone binding protein (CRHBP), corticotropin releasing hormone receptor 1 (CRHR1), corticotropin releasing hormone receptor 2 (CRHR2), FKBP5 and the glucocorticoid receptor (NR3C1). We performed multiple linear regression models of methylation M-values to a categorical variable of hypersexuality, adjusting for depression, dexamethasone non-suppression status, Childhood Trauma Questionnaire total score and plasma levels of TNF-alpha and IL-6. Of 76 tested individual CpG sites, four were nominally significant (p<0.05), associated with the genes CRH, CRHR2 and NR3C1. Cg23409074-located 48bp upstream of the transcription start site of the CRH gene - was significantly hypomethylated in hypersexual patients after corrections for multiple testing using the FDR-method. Methylation levels of cg23409074 were positively correlated with gene expression of the CRH gene in an independent cohort of 11 healthy male subjects. The methylation levels at the identified CRH site, cg23409074, were significantly correlated between blood and four different brain regions. CRH is an important integrator of neuroendocrine stress responses in the brain, with a key role in the addiction processes. Our results show epigenetic changes in the CRH gene related to hypersexual disorder in men.

NGI Uppsala (SNP&SEQ Technology Platform) [Service]

National Genomics Infrastructure [Service]

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PubMed 28319850

DOI 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.03.007

Crossref 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.03.007

pii: S0306-4530(16)31025-3