Epigenetics and type 1 diabetes: mechanisms and translational applications

Transl Res. 2017 Jul;185:85-93. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2017.05.002. Epub 2017 May 18.


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an irreversible degenerative disease with severe complications such as heart disease, nephropathy, neuropathy, and retinopathy. Although exogenous insulin administration is a life-saving therapy, it does not cure the disease. This review addresses the epigenetic mechanisms responsible for the development of T1D and discusses epigenetic-based strategies for prevention and treatment of the disease. We describe novel epigenetic biomarkers for the identification of susceptible individuals and the establishment of innovative therapies with epidrugs and cell therapy to regenerate the lost β-cells. Despite the wealth of promising data regarding the potential benefits of epigenetic tools to reduce the burden of T1D, clinical trials are still very few, and this issue needs to be resolved in the near future.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Translational Medical Research