Epigenetics and Trained Immunity

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2018 Oct 10;29(11):1023-1040. doi: 10.1089/ars.2017.7310. Epub 2017 Nov 21.


Significance: A growing body of clinical and experimental evidence has challenged the traditional understanding that only the adaptive immune system can mount immunological memory. Recent findings describe the adaptive characteristics of the innate immune system, underscored by its ability to remember antecedent foreign encounters and respond in a nonspecific sensitized manner to reinfection. This has been termed trained innate immunity. Although beneficial in the context of recurrent infections, this might actually contribute to chronic immune-mediated diseases, such as atherosclerosis. Recent Advances: In line with its proposed role in sustaining cellular memories, epigenetic reprogramming has emerged as a critical determinant of trained immunity. Recent technological and computational advances that improve unbiased acquisition of epigenomic profiles have significantly enhanced our appreciation for the complexities of chromatin architecture in the contexts of diverse immunological challenges.

Critical issues: Key to resolving the distinct chromatin signatures of innate immune memory is a comprehensive understanding of the precise physiological targets of regulatory proteins that recognize, deposit, and remove chemical modifications from chromatin as well as other gene-regulating factors. Drawing from a rapidly expanding compendium of experimental and clinical studies, this review details a current perspective of the epigenetic pathways that support the adapted phenotypes of monocytes and macrophages.

Future directions: We explore future strategies that are aimed at exploiting the mechanism of trained immunity to improve the prevention and treatment of infections and immune-mediated chronic disorders.

Keywords: epigenetics; innate immunity; macrophage; memory; monocyte; trained immunity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / genetics*
  • Atherosclerosis / immunology*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics*
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Phenotype