DNA methylation of the KLK8 gene in depression symptomatology

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BACKGROUND: Depression is a common, complex, and debilitating mental disorder estimated to be under-diagnosed and insufficiently treated in society. Liability to depression is influenced by both genetic and environmental risk factors, which are both capable of impacting DNA methylation (DNAm). Accordingly, numerous studies have researched for DNAm signatures of this disorder. Recently, an epigenome-wide association study of monozygotic twins identified an association between DNAm status in the KLK8 (neuropsin) promoter region and severity of depression symptomatology.

METHODS: In this study, we aimed to investigate: (i) if blood DNAm levels, quantified by pyrosequencing, at two CpG sites in the KLK8 promoter are associated with depression symptomatology and depression diagnosis in an independent clinical cohort and (ii) if KLK8 DNAm levels are associated with depression, postpartum depression, and depression symptomatology in four independent methylomic cohorts, with blood and brain DNAm quantified by either MBD-seq or 450 k methylation array.

RESULTS: DNAm levels in KLK8 were not significantly different between depression cases and controls, and were not significantly associated with any of the depression symptomatology scores after correction for multiple testing (minimum p value for KLK8 CpG1 = 0.12 for 'Depressed mood,' and for CpG2 = 0.03 for 'Loss of self-confidence with other people'). However, investigation of the link between KLK8 promoter DNAm levels and depression-related phenotypes collected from four methylomic cohorts identified significant association (p value < 0.05) between severity of depression symptomatology and blood DNAm levels at seven CpG sites.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that variance in blood DNAm levels in KLK8 promoter region is associated with severity of depression symptoms, but not depression diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number200
JournalClinical Epigenetics
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021


  • DNA methylation
  • Depression
  • Epigenetics
  • KLK8
  • Neuropsin


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