Within subject cross-tissue analyzes of epigenetic clocks in substance use disorder postmortem brain and blood

Brenda Cabrera-Mendoza, Laura Stertz, Katherine Najera, Sudhakar Selvaraj, Antonio L. Teixeira, Thomas D. Meyer, Gabriel R. Fries, Consuelo Walss-Bass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


There is a possible accelerated biological aging in patients with substance use disorders (SUD). The evaluation of epigenetic clocks, which are accurate estimators of biological aging based on DNA methylation changes, has been limited to blood tissue in patients with SUD. Consequently, the impact of biological aging in the brain of individuals with SUD remains unknown. In this study, we evaluated multiple epigenetic clocks (DNAmAge, DNAmAgeHannum, DNAmAgeSkinBlood, DNAmPhenoAge, DNAmGrimAge, and DNAmTL) in individuals with SUD (n = 42), including alcohol (n = 10), opioid (n = 19), and stimulant use disorder (n = 13), and controls (n = 10) in postmortem brain (prefrontal cortex) and blood tissue obtained from the same individuals. We found a higher DNAmPhenoAge (β = 0.191, p-value = 0.0104) and a nominally lower DNAmTL (β = −0.149, p-value = 0.0603) in blood from individuals with SUD compared to controls. SUD subgroup analysis showed a nominally lower brain DNAmTL in subjects with alcohol use disorder, compared to stimulant use disorder and controls (β = 0.0150, p-value = 0.087). Cross-tissue analyzes indicated a lower blood DNAmTL and a higher blood DNAmAge compared to their respective brain values in the SUD group. This study highlights the relevance of tissue specificity in biological aging studies and suggests that peripheral measures of epigenetic clocks in SUD may depend on the specific type of drug used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-27
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA methylation
  • cross-tissue
  • epigenetic clocks
  • opioid use disorder
  • stimulants use disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Within subject cross-tissue analyzes of epigenetic clocks in substance use disorder postmortem brain and blood'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this