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Epigenetics involve heritable and acquired changes in gene transcription that occur independently of the DNA sequence. Epigenetic mechanisms constitute a hierarchic upper-level of transcriptional control through complex modifications of chromosomal components and nuclear structures. These modifications include, for example, DNA methylation or post-translational modifications of core histones; they are mediated by various chromatin-modifying enzymes; and ultimately they define the accessibility of a transcriptional complex to its target DNA. Integrating epigenetic mechanisms into the pathophysiologic concept of complex and multifactorial diseases such as atherosclerosis may significantly enhance our understanding of related mechanisms and provide promising therapeutic approaches. Although still in its infancy, intriguing scientific progress has begun to elucidate the role of epigenetic mechanisms in vascular biology, particularly in the control of smooth muscle cell phenotypes. In this review, we will summarize epigenetic pathways in smooth muscle cells, focusing on mechanisms involved in the regulation of vascular remodeling.


Hannes M Findeisen, Florian K Kahles, Dennis Bruemmer. Epigenetic regulation of vascular smooth muscle cell function in atherosclerosis. Current atherosclerosis reports. 2013 May;15(5):319

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PMID: 23630979

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