Epigenetics in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Argyrios Tzouvelekis, Naftali Kaminski
Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Biochimie et Biologie Cellulaire 2015, 93 (2): 159-70
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a lethal chronic lung disorder with no effective treatment and a prognosis worse than that of lung cancer. Despite extensive research efforts, its etiology and pathogenesis still remain largely unknown. Current experimental evidence has shifted the disease paradigm from chronic inflammation towards the premise of abnormal epithelial wound repair in response to repeated epigenetic injurious stimuli in genetically predisposed individuals. Epigenetics is defined as the study of heritable changes in gene function by factors other than an individual's DNA sequence, providing valuable information regarding adaption of genes to environmental changes. Although cancer is the most studied disease with relevance to epigenetic modifications, recent data support the idea that epigenomic alterations may lead to variable disease phenotypes, including fibroproliferative lung disorders such as IPF. This review article summarizes the latest experimental and translational epigenetic studies in the research field of chronic lung disorders, mainly focusing on IPF, highlights current methodology limitations, and underlines future directions and perspectives.

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