chapter  20
32 Pages

Pharmacoepigenetics: From Basic Epigenetics to Therapeutic Applications

WithJames Flanagan, Arturas Petronis

Epigenetics refers to regulation of various genomic functions controlled by stable but potentially reversible changes in DNA methylation and chromatin structure (1). Traditionally, phenotypic outcomes have been ‘‘assigned’’ to the DNA sequence variation, while the epigenetic component of the chromosome has been ignored for quite a long time. The last 10-15 years, however, observed numerous discoveries in terms of mechanisms and the role of epigenetic machinery in the normal and abnormal functioning of a cell, as well as the development of a wide variety of experimental technologies that now place epigenetics among the frontiers of modern molecular biology (2). One of the important observations is the increasing evidence that epigenetic factors play an important role in the etiopathogenesis of human diseases, and the proportion of epigenetic diseases could be substantial. Uncovering the epigenetic risk factors opens new opportunities for diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic approaches in human morbid biology. All the epigeneticsrelated pharmacological developments can be united under the ‘‘umbrella’’ of pharmacoepigenetics. Pharmacoepigenetics is still a new and poorly described concept, and this chapter is one of the first efforts to compile the relevant knowledge. In addition to the pharmacoepigenetic issues per se, we also briefly describe the main mechanisms of epigenetic regulation and the role, both proven and putative, in rare and common human diseases.