Whole genome Cardiac DNA methylation fingerprint and gene expression analysis provide new insights in the pathogenesis of Chronic Chagas disease Cardiomyopathy


  • Laugier L.
  • Frade A. F.
  • Ferreira F. M.
  • Baron M. A.
  • Teixeira P. C.
  • Cabantous S.
  • Ferreira L. R. P.
  • Louis Laurence
  • Rigaud V. O. C.
  • Gaiotto F. A.
  • Bacal F.
  • Pomerantzeff P.
  • Bocchi E.
  • Kalil J.
  • Santos R. H. B.
  • Cunha-Neto E.
  • Chevillard C.


  • Gene expression
  • Chagas
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Methylation
  • Epigenetic

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Background: Chagas disease, caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, is endemic in Latin America and affects 10 million people worldwide. Approximately 12000 deaths attributable to Chagas disease occur annually due to chronic Chagas disease cardiomyopathy (CCC), an inflammatory cardiomyopathy presenting with heart failure and arrythmia; 30% of infected subjects develop CCC years after infection. Genetic mechanisms play a role in differential progression to CCC, but little is known about the role of epigenetic modifications in pathological gene expression patterns in CCC patients’ myocardium. DNA methylation is the most common modification in the mammalian genome. Methods: We investigated the impact of genome-wide cardiac DNA methylation on global gene expression in myocardial samples from end-stage CCC patients, compared to control samples from organ donors. Results: In total, 4720 genes were differentially methylated between CCC patients and controls, of which 399 were also differentially expressed. Several of them were related to heart function or to the immune response and had methylation sites in their promoter region. Reporter gene and in silico transcription factor binding analyses indicated promoter methylation modified expression of key genes. Among those, we found potassium channel genes KCNA4 and KCNIP4, involved in electrical conduction and arrythmia, SMOC2, involved in matrix remodeling, as well as enkephalin and RUNX3, potentially involved in the increased T-helper 1 cytokine-mediated inflammatory damage in heart. Conclusions: Results support that DNA methylation plays a role in the regulation of expression of pathogenically relevant genes in CCC myocardium, and identify novel potential disease pathways and therapeutic targets in CCC.

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