Epigenetic mechanisms: An emerging role in pathogenesis and its therapeutic potential in systemic sclerosis.

The international journal of biochemistry & cell biology

PubMedID: 26043891

Luo Y, Wang Y, Shu Y, Lu Q, Xiao R. Epigenetic mechanisms: An emerging role in pathogenesis and its therapeutic potential in systemic sclerosis. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2015;.
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a heterogeneous and life-threatening autoimmune disease characterized by damage to small blood vessels, interruption of immune homeostasis and ultimately, fibrosis. Currently, the mechanisms involved in SSc pathogenesis remain unknown. An increasing amount of data shows that, via certain signaling pathways, epigenetic mechanisms, including DNA methylation, histone modification, and miRNAs, are closely related to the three primary processes that characterize SSc: vascular abnormalities, activation of immune system, and excessive extracellular matrix deposition. In the clinical setting, identification of molecules and biomarkers for determining disease severity, predicting disease progression and assessing response to treatment remains challenging. In this review, we aim to summarize the key epigenetic mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of SSc. Certain cytokines or molecules, such as CD40, CD70, and Fli-1, are expressed at varying rates in SSc due to epigenetic modification and play important roles in SSc. It is therefore likely that these molecules may be biomarkers for SSc. In addition, epigenetic changes of certain genes, including Fli-1, BMPRII, CD11a, Foxp3, and eNOS, influence the expression of these genes to ultimately result in an anti-fibrotic effect. The influence that epigenetics has on SSc pathogenesis suggests that epigenetics-targeting drugs may have potential therapeutic effects against SSc. This article is part of a Directed Issue entitled: Epigenetics dynamics in development and disease.