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DNA methylation age is accelerated in alcohol dependence.


Alcohol dependence (ALC) is a chronic, relapsing disorder that increases the burden of chronic disease and significantly contributes to numerous premature deaths each year. Previous research suggests that chronic, heavy alcohol consumption is associated with differential DNA methylation patterns. In addition, DNA methylation levels at certain CpG sites have been correlated with age. We used an epigenetic clock to investigate the potential role of excessive alcohol consumption in epigenetic aging. We explored this question in five independent cohorts, including DNA methylation data derived from datasets from blood (n = 129, n = 329), liver (n = 92, n = 49), and postmortem prefrontal cortex (n = 46). One blood dataset and one liver tissue dataset of individuals with ALC exhibited positive age acceleration (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.0069, respectively), whereas the other blood and liver tissue datasets both exhibited trends of positive age acceleration that were not significant (p = 0.83 and p = 0.57, respectively). Prefrontal cortex tissue exhibited a trend of negative age acceleration (p = 0.19). These results suggest that excessive alcohol consumption may be associated with epigenetic aging in a tissue-specific manner and warrants further investigation using multiple tissue samples from the same individuals.

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