DNA methylation age (DNAm age) estimation is a powerful biomarker of human ageing. To date, epigenetic clocks have not been evaluated in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Here, we perform genome-wide DNA methylation analyses in blood of AMD patients with a documented smoking history (14 AMD, 16 Normal), identifying loci of differential methylation (DML) with a relaxed p-value criterion (p ≤ 10 −4 ). We conduct DNAm age analyses using the Horvath-multi tissue, Hannum and Skin & Blood epigenetic clocks in both blood and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). We perform Ingenuity Pathway Analysis Causal Network Analysis (IPA CNA) on the topmost significantly differentially methylated CpG probes in blood and RPE. Results show poor performance of epigenetic clocks in RPE. Epigenetic age acceleration (EAA) was not observed in AMD. However, we observe positive EAA in blood of smokers, and in smokers with AMD. DML analysis revealed hypomethylation at cg04953735 within RPTOR (p = 6.51 × 10 −5; ∆β = −11.95%). IPA CNA in the RPE also identified RPTOR as the putative master regulator, predicted to be inhibited in AMD. In conclusion, this is the first study evaluating an association of epigenetic ageing in AMD. We posit a role for RPTOR as a common master regulator of methylation changes in the RPE in AMD.
- Age-related macular degeneration
- DNA methylation
- Epigenetic clock
- Retinal pigment epithelium
- Whole blood