DNA Methylation Alterations in Fractionally Irradiated Rats and Breast Cancer Patients Receiving Radiotherapy

Magy Sallam, Mohamed Mysara, Mohammed Abderrafi Benotmane, Anne P.G. Crijns, Daan Spoor, Filip Van Nieuwerburgh, Dieter Deforce, Sarah Baatout, Pieter Jan Guns, An Aerts, Raghda Ramadan*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Radiation-Induced CardioVascular Disease (RICVD) is an important concern in thoracic radiotherapy with complex underlying pathophysiology. Recently, we proposed DNA methylation as a possible mechanism contributing to RICVD. The current study investigates DNA methylation in heart-irradiated rats and radiotherapy-treated breast cancer (BC) patients. Rats received fractionated whole heart X-irradiation (0, 0.92, 6.9 and 27.6 Gy total doses) and blood was collected after 1.5, 3, 7 and 12 months. Global and gene-specific methylation of the samples were evaluated; and gene expression of selected differentially methylated regions (DMRs) was validated in rat and BC patient blood. In rats receiving an absorbed dose of 27.6 Gy, DNA methylation alterations were detected up to 7 months with differential expression of cardiac-relevant DMRs. Of those, SLMAP showed increased expression at 1.5 months, which correlated with hypomethylation. Furthermore, E2F6 inversely correlated with a decreased global longitudinal strain. In BC patients, E2F6 and SLMAP exhibited differential expression directly and 6 months after radiotherapy, respectively. This study describes a systemic radiation fingerprint at the DNA methylation level, elucidating a possible association of DNA methylation to RICVD pathophysiology, to be validated in future mechanistic studies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number16214
    Number of pages20
    JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
    Issue number24
    Publication statusPublished - 19-Dec-2022


    • breast cancer patient
    • cardiovascular disease
    • DNA methylation
    • gene expression
    • ionizing radiation

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