Comparing DNA methylation profiles in saliva and intestinal mucosa

Nerissa L. Hearn, Aaron S. Coleman, Vincent Ho, Christine L. Chiu*, Joanne M. Lind

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Altered epigenetic profiles are a feature of intestinal diseases, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. DNA methylation studies in these diseases have utilised intestinal mucosal tissue or blood which can be difficult to collect, particularly for large-scale research studies. Saliva is an attractive alternative for epigenetic studies as it is easy to collect and provides high quality methylation profiles. The aim of the study was to determine the utility of saliva as an alternative for DNA methylation studies of intestinal disorders. Results: DNA methylation in saliva and intestinal mucosa samples were compared in individuals (n = 10) undergoing endoscopies using the Illumina Infinium Methylation 450 K Beadchip array. We found that DNA methylation was correlated between tissue types within an individual (Pearson correlation co-efficient r = 0.92 to 0.95, p < 0.001). Of the 48,541 probes (approximately 11% of CpG sites) that were differentially methylated between saliva and intestinal mucosa (adjusted p < 0.001, |Δβ| ≥ 20%), these mapped to genes involved in tissue-specific pathways, including the apelin signalling and oxytocin pathways which are important in gastrointestinal cytoprotection and motility. Conclusions: This study suggests that saliva has the potential to be used as an alternate DNA source to invasive intestinal mucosa for DNA methylation research into intestinal conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number163
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • DNA methylation
  • Intestinal mucosal
  • Saliva


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