Epigenetic changes during aging and their reprogramming potential

Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2019 Feb;54(1):61-83. doi: 10.1080/10409238.2019.1570075. Epub 2019 Mar 1.


The aging process results in significant epigenetic changes at all levels of chromatin and DNA organization. These include reduced global heterochromatin, nucleosome remodeling and loss, changes in histone marks, global DNA hypomethylation with CpG island hypermethylation, and the relocalization of chromatin modifying factors. Exactly how and why these changes occur is not fully understood, but evidence that these epigenetic changes affect longevity and may cause aging, is growing. Excitingly, new studies show that age-related epigenetic changes can be reversed with interventions such as cyclic expression of the Yamanaka reprogramming factors. This review presents a summary of epigenetic changes that occur in aging, highlights studies indicating that epigenetic changes may contribute to the aging process and outlines the current state of research into interventions to reprogram age-related epigenetic changes.

Keywords: Aging; DNA methylation; chromatin; clock; epigenetics; histones; reprogramming; sirtuins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Cellular Reprogramming
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Humans


  • Chromatin