Cisplatin-based chemotherapy (CBCT) is part of standard treatment of several cancers. In testicular cancer (TC) survivors, an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome (MetS) is observed. In this epigenome-wide association study, we investigated if CBCT relates to epigenetic changes (DNA methylation) and if epigenetic changes render individuals susceptible for developing MetS later in life. We analyzed methylation profiles, using the MethylationEPIC BeadChip, in samples collected ~ 16 years after treatment from 279 Norwegian TC survivors with known MetS status. Among the CBCT treated (n = 176) and non-treated (n = 103), 61 and 34 developed MetS, respectively. We used two linear regression models to identify if (i) CBCT results in epigenetic changes and (ii) epigenetic changes play a role in development of MetS. Then we investigated if these changes in (i) and (ii) links to genes, functional networks, and pathways related to MetS symptoms.
We identified 35 sites that were differentially methylated when comparing CBCT treated and untreated TC survivors. The PTK6–RAS–MAPk pathway was significantly enriched with these sites and infers a gene network of 13 genes with CACNA1D (involved in insulin release) as a network hub. We found nominal MetS-associations and a functional gene network with ABCG1 and NCF2 as network hubs.
Our results suggest that CBCT has long-term effects on the epigenome. We could not directly link the CBCT effects to the risk of developing MetS. Nevertheless, since we identified differential methylation occurring in genes associated with conditions pertaining to MetS, we hypothesize that epigenomic changes may also play a role in the development of MetS in TC survivors. Further studies are needed to validate this hypothesis.
This item's license is: Attribution 4.0 International