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Epigenetic mechanisms in diabetic vascular complications

Marpadga A. Reddy, Rama Natarajan
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvr024 cvr024 First published online: 25 January 2011


There has been a rapid increase in the incidence of diabetes as well the associated vascular complications. Both genetic and environmental factors have been implicated in these pathologies. Increasing evidence suggests that epigenetic factors play a key role in the complex interplay between genes and the environment. Actions of major pathological mediators of diabetes and its complications such as hyperglycaemia, oxidant stress, and inflammatory factors can lead to dysregulated epigenetic mechanisms that affect chromatin structure and gene expression. Furthermore, persistence of this altered state of the epigenome may be the underlying mechanism contributing to a ‘metabolic memory’ that results in chronic inflammation and vascular dysfunction in diabetes even after achieving glycaemic control. Further examination of epigenetic mechanisms by also taking advantage of recently developed next-generation sequencing technologies can provide novel insights into the pathology of diabetes and its complications and lead to the discovery of much needed new drug targets for these diseases. In this review, we highlight the role of epigenetics in diabetes and its vascular complications, and recent technological advances that have significantly accelerated the field.

  • Epigenetics
  • Diabetes
  • Vascular complications
  • MicroRNA
  • Next-generation sequencing
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