Kun Sun 1 , Peiyong Jiang 1 , K C Allen Chan 2 , John Wong 3 , Yvonne K Y Cheng 4 , Raymond H S Liang 5 , Wai-kong Chan 6 , Edmond S K Ma 6 , Stephen L Chan 7 , Suk Hang Cheng 1 , Rebecca W Y Chan 1 , Yu K Tong 1 , Simon S M Ng 3 , Raymond S M Wong 8 , David S C Hui 9 , Tse Ngong Leung 10 , Tak Y Leung 4 , Paul B S Lai 11 , Rossa W K Chiu 1 , Yuk Ming Dennis Lo 12
Oct 06 2015
Plasma consists of DNA released from multiple tissues within the body. Using genome-wide bisulfite sequencing of plasma DNA and deconvolution of the sequencing data with reference to methylation profiles of different tissues, we developed a general approach for studying the major tissue contributors to the circulating DNA pool. We tested this method in pregnant women, patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, and subjects following bone marrow and liver transplantation. In most subjects, white blood cells were the predominant contributors to the circulating DNA pool. The placental contributions in the plasma of pregnant women correlated with the proportional contributions as revealed by fetal-specific genetic markers. The graft-derived contributions to the plasma in the transplant recipients correlated with those determined using donor-specific genetic markers. Patients with hepatocellular carcinoma showed elevated plasma DNA contributions from the liver, which correlated with measurements made using tumor-associated copy number aberrations. In hepatocellular carcinoma patients and in pregnant women exhibiting copy number aberrations in plasma, comparison of methylation deconvolution results using genomic regions with different copy number status pinpointed the tissue type responsible for the aberrations. In a pregnant woman diagnosed as having follicular lymphoma during pregnancy, methylation deconvolution indicated a grossly elevated contribution from B cells into the plasma DNA pool and localized B cells as the origin of the copy number aberrations observed in plasma. This method may serve as a powerful tool for assessing a wide range of physiological and pathological conditions based on the identification of perturbed proportional contributions of different tissues into plasma.