Epigenetic changes in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases

Subcell Biochem. 2013:61:455-78. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-4525-4_20.


In higher eukaryotic organisms epigenetic modifications are crucial for proper chromatin folding and thereby proper regulation of gene expression. In the last years the involvement of aberrant epigenetic modifications in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases has been recognized and attracted significant interest. However, the epigenetic mechanisms underlying the different disease phenotypes are still poorly understood. As autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are at least partly T cell mediated, we will provide in this chapter an introduction to the epigenetics of T cell differentiation followed by a summary of the current knowledge on aberrant epigenetic modifications that dysfunctional T cells display in various diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism
  • Autoimmunity / genetics*
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators