The altered DNA methylome of chronic doxorubicin exposure in sprague dawley rats

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Doxorubicin (DOX) is a widely used treatment for human cancers, but increases the risk of life-threatening congestive heart failure (CHF). DOX-induced mitochondrial damage is cumulative and persistent, similar to that observed clinically for risk of CHF. Recent evidence suggests the persistent nature of this injury is caused by altered regulation of genes important to normal cardiac functioning. We hypothesize that chronic DOX therapy is associated with epigenetic modifications of DNA methylation status, particularly in critical regulators of mitochondrial function and capacity. Cardiac tissue from Sprague Dawley rats receiving injections of DOX (2 mg/kg, s.c.) or saline once a week for 6 weeks, followed by 5 weeks of drug-free holiday was used for Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing to map specific sites of DNA methylation. Comparison of these methylomes indicated DOX exposure alters DNA methylation landscapes, and identified 14 genes with highly altered methylation status. Preliminary functional effects of DNA methylation changes were characterized by quantifying mRNA expression of selected targets (Rbm20, Nmnat2, Klhl29, Cacna1c, Scn5a.) Gene expression of Rbm20, Klhl29, and Nmnat2 were significantly altered in DOX treated animals; Klhl29 and Nmnat2 demonstrated significant decreases in protein expression corresponding to gene expression. Through an epigenotype-to-phenotype approach, this study identifies potential markers and molecular regulators of irreversible DOX-induced cardiovascular toxicity associated with clinically limiting CHF. However, none of the most prevalent genes identified directly relate to mitochondrial structure or function. Thus, the investigation fails to demonstrate a direct association between this altered methylome and persistent mitochondrionopathy associated with chronic doxorubicin cardiac toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-479
Number of pages10
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Toxicology. All rights reserved.


  • Doxorubicin
  • Epigenetics
  • Klhl29
  • Methylation
  • Nmnat2
  • Rbm20


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