Background: Increasing evidence suggests that abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a T-cell-mediated autoimmune condition. This study investigates the epigenetic modifications that occur in the T cells of AAA patients and evaluates the correlation of these modifications with disease development. Methods and Results: Peripheral T cells were collected from 101 AAA patients and 102 healthy controls (HCs). DNA methylation and histone acetylation levels were measured by ELISA. Methyl-CpG-binding domain, DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) mRNA levels were determined by real-time PCR. DNA from the T cells of the AAA patients exhibited significant hypomethylation compared with the HCs (1.6-fold, p < 0.0001). Expression of DNMT1 at the mRNA level in the T cells of the AAA patients was 1.52-fold lower than that of the HCs (p < 0.0001). The extent of DNA methylation in the AAA patients was negatively correlated with the corresponding aortic diameter (r = -0.498, p < 0.0001). H3 (1.59-fold, p < 0.0001) and H3K14 (2.15-fold, p < 0.0001) acetylation levels in the T cells of the AAA patients were higher than those of the HCs, but the HDAC1 mRNA level was 2.33-fold lower than that of the HCs (p < 0.0001). Conclusions: DNA methylation and the histone modification status are significantly altered in the T cells of AAA patients. These changes could play a pivotal role in the activation of pathological immune responses and may influence AAA development.

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