Epigenetics and environmental health

Front Med. 2024 May 28. doi: 10.1007/s11684-023-1038-2. Online ahead of print.


Epigenetic modifications including DNA methylation, histone modifications, chromatin remodeling, and RNA modifications complicate gene regulation and heredity and profoundly impact various physiological and pathological processes. In recent years, accumulating evidence indicates that epigenetics is vulnerable to environmental changes and regulates the growth, development, and diseases of individuals by affecting chromatin activity and regulating gene expression. Environmental exposure or induced epigenetic changes can regulate the state of development and lead to developmental disorders, aging, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, cancers, and so on. However, epigenetic modifications are reversible. The use of specific epigenetic inhibitors targeting epigenetic changes in response to environmental exposure is useful in disease therapy. Here, we provide an overview of the role of epigenetics in various diseases. Furthermore, we summarize the mechanism of epigenetic alterations induced by different environmental exposures, the influence of different environmental exposures, and the crosstalk between environmental variation epigenetics, and genes that are implicated in the body's health. However, the interaction of multiple factors and epigenetics in regulating the initiation and progression of various diseases complicates clinical treatments. We discuss some commonly used epigenetic drugs targeting epigenetic modifications and methods to prevent or relieve various diseases regulated by environmental exposure and epigenetics through diet.

Keywords: environmental exposure; epigenetics; health; prevention and therapy.

Publication types

  • Review