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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 Nov 2023 - 1 Dec 2023

2023 Nov 28



Editor's Pick

Whole-genome methylation profiling reveals regions associated with painful temporomandibular disorders and active recovery processes.


Ao X, Parisien M, Fillingim RB, Ohrbach R, Slade GD, Diatchenko L, Smith SB


Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs), collectively representing one of the most common chronic pain conditions, have a substantial genetic component, but genetic variation alone has not fully explained the heritability of TMD risk. Reasoning that the unexplained heritability may be because of DNA methylation, an epigenetic phenomenon, we measured genome-wide DNA methylation using the Illumina MethylationEPIC platform with blood samples from participants in the Orofacial Pain: Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment (OPPERA) study. Associations with chronic TMD used methylation data from 496 chronic painful TMD cases and 452 TMD-free controls. Changes in methylation between enrollment and a 6-month follow-up visit were determined for a separate sample of 62 people with recent-onset painful TMD. More than 750,000 individual CpG sites were examined for association with chronic painful TMD. Six differentially methylated regions were significantly (P < 5 × 10-8) associated with chronic painful TMD, including loci near genes involved in the regulation of inflammatory and neuronal response. A majority of loci were similarly differentially methylated in acute TMD consistent with observed transience or persistence of symptoms at follow-up. Functional characterization of the identified regions found relationships between methylation at these loci and nearby genetic variation contributing to chronic painful TMD and with gene expression of proximal genes. These findings reveal epigenetic contributions to chronic painful TMD through methylation of the genes FMOD, PM20D1, ZNF718, ZFP57, and RNF39, following the development of acute painful TMD. Epigenetic regulation of these genes likely contributes to the trajectory of transcriptional events in affected tissues leading to resolution or chronicity of pain.