Epigenetic Regulation of Bone Remodeling and Its Impacts in Osteoporosis

Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Sep 1;17(9):1446. doi: 10.3390/ijms17091446.


Epigenetics describes mechanisms which control gene expression and cellular processes without changing the DNA sequence. The main mechanisms in epigenetics are DNA methylation in CpG-rich promoters, histone modifications and non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). DNA methylation modifies the function of the DNA and correlates with gene silencing. Histone modifications including acetylation/deacetylation and phosphorylation act in diverse biological processes such as transcriptional activation/inactivation and DNA repair. Non-coding RNAs play a large part in epigenetic regulation of gene expression in addition to their roles at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level. Osteoporosis is the most common skeletal disorder, characterized by compromised bone strength and bone micro-architectural deterioration that predisposes the bones to an increased risk of fracture. It is most often caused by an increase in bone resorption that is not sufficiently compensated by a corresponding increase in bone formation. Nowadays it is well accepted that osteoporosis is a multifactorial disorder and there are genetic risk factors for osteoporosis and bone fractures. Here we review emerging evidence that epigenetics contributes to the machinery that can alter DNA structure, gene expression, and cellular differentiation during physiological and pathological bone remodeling.

Keywords: Genetics–Epigenetics; HDAC inhibitor; bone regeneration; bromodomain inhibitor; osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Remodeling*
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis / genetics*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics


  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histones
  • RNA, Untranslated