The cause of inflammatory bowel disease, encompassing Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, remains a mystery but evidence is accumulating that complex interactions between the genetic background and the gut microbiota of the host and environmental factors associated with rapid industrialization and westernized life styles may underlie its pathogenesis. Recent epigenetic studies have suggested that interactions between environment and host DNA may play a leading role in the phenotypical expression of both diseases, explaining amongst others the differences in disease expression in monozygotic twins. DNA methylation is the most studied epigenetic modification and during the last decade its correlation to IBD pathogenesis has been well established. Genes from different molecular pathways have been studied but till now there is no standardized database of methylated genes in IBD. Thus, a thorough and in depth study of DNA methylation, its potential relation to IBD and its interaction with the available pharmaceutical armamentarium is of great interest.
Keywords: Methylation; epigenetics; inflammation; inflammatory bowel disease.