New Mechanisms of Vascular Dysfunction in Cardiometabolic Patients: Focus on Epigenetics

Samuele Ambrosini, Shafeeq A Mohammed, Thomas F Lüscher, Sarah Costantino, Francesco Paneni
High Blood Pressure & Cardiovascular Prevention: the Official Journal of the Italian Society of Hypertension 2020 August 1
Epigenetic processing takes centre stage in cardiometabolic diseases (obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, hypertension), where it participates in adiposity, inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, vascular insulin resistance and atherosclerosis. Epigenetic modifications, defined as heritable changes in gene expression that do not entail mutation in the DNA sequence, are mainly induced by environmental stimuli (stress, pollution, cigarette smoking) and are gaining considerable interest due to their causal role in cardiovascular disease, and their amenability to pharmacological intervention. Importantly, epigenetic modifications acquired during life can be transmitted to the offspring and exert their biological effects across multiple generations. Indeed, such transgenerational transmission of epigenetic signals may contribute to anticipating cardiovascular and metabolic disease phenotypes already in children and young adults. A deeper understanding of environmental factors and their effects on the epigenetic machinery and transcriptional programs is warranted to develop effective mechanism-based therapeutic strategies. The clinical application of epigenetic drugs-also known as "epi-drugs"-is currently exploding in the field of cardiovascular disease. The present review describes the main epigenetic networks underlying cardiometabolic alterations and sheds light on specific points of intervention for pharmacological reprogramming in this setting.

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