Epigenetic changes by DNA methylation in chronic and intermittent hypoxia

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2017 Dec 1;313(6):L1096-L1100. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00325.2017. Epub 2017 Aug 24.


DNA methylation of cytosine residues is a well-studied epigenetic change, which regulates gene transcription by altering accessibility for transcription factors. Hypoxia is a pervasive stimulus that affects many physiological processes. The circulatory and respiratory systems adapt to chronic sustained hypoxia, such as that encountered during a high-altitude sojourn. Many people living at sea level experience chronic intermittent hypoxia (IH) due to sleep apnea, which leads to cardiovascular and respiratory maladaptation. This article presents a brief update on emerging evidence suggesting that changes in DNA methylation contribute to pathologies caused by chronic IH and potentially mediate adaptations to chronic sustained hypoxia by affecting the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) signaling pathway.

Keywords: DNA methyl transferases; antioxidant enzyme; blood pressure; carotid body reflex; redox state.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / metabolism*
  • Hypoxia / pathology
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Signal Transduction*