Epigenetic mechanisms are likely to play a role in many complex diseases, the extent of which we only beginning to understand. COPD and asthma are two respiratory diseases subject to strong environmental influences depending on underlying genetic susceptibility. Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation, histone modification and microRNA may be involved in these processes by modulating environmental effects to influence disease development. Given their demonstrated modifiable nature, epigenetic mechanisms may open new possibilities for therapeutic intervention. Here we give an overview of recent developments in the field of respiratory epigenetics in relation to asthma and COPD in the context of our current understanding of mechanisms leading to such diseases.
Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.