Clin Epigenetics 13 (1) 107 [2021-05-12; online 2021-05-12]
Long-term stored serum is considered challenging for epigenomic analyses: as there are no cells, circulating DNA is scarce, and amplification removes epigenetic signals. Additionally, pre-analytical treatments and storage might introduce biases and fragmentation to the DNA. In particular, starting with low-input DNA can result in low-diversity libraries. However, successful whole-genome bisulphite sequencing (WGBS) of such serum samples has the potential to open biobanks for epigenetic analyses and deliver novel prediagnostic biomarkers. Here, we perform WGBS using the Accel-NGS library preparation kit on ultralow amounts of DNA from long-term archived samples with diverse pretreatments from the Janus Serum Bank. Ninety-four of the 96 samples produced satisfactory methylation calls; an average of 578 M reads per sample generated a mean coverage of 17× and mean duplication level of 35%. Failed samples were related to poor bisulphite conversion rather than to sequencing or library preparation. We demonstrate the feasibility of WGBS on ultralow DNA yields from serum samples stored up to 48 years. Our results show the potential of large serum biobank collections for future epigenomic studies and biomarker discovery.