Metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), are increasing worldwide at an alarming rate. Epigenetic DNA modifications such as DNA methylation and histone modifications are thought to play an important role in the development of and predisposition to metabolic diseases. This review highlights the key functions of DNA methylation and histone modifications and elucidates the underlying mechanisms of in utero programming and epigenetic inheritance, which could account for the global increase in obesity and T2DM. The impact of exercise and nutrition on the tissue-specific epigenetic profile is discussed, because these lifestyle factors may modify epigenetic programming and predisposition to obesity and T2DM.
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