Cell-specific epigenetic changes in atherosclerosis

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Atherosclerosis is a disease of large and medium arteries that can lead to life-threatening cerebrovascular and cardiovascular consequences such as heart failure and stroke and is a major contributor to cardiovascular-related mortality worldwide. Atherosclerosis development is a complex process that involves specific structural, functional and transcriptional changes in different vascular cell populations at different stages of the disease. The application of single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) analysis has discovered not only disease-related cell-specific transcriptomic profiles but also novel subpopulations of cells once thought as homogenous cell populations. Vascular cells undergo specific transcriptional changes during the entire course of the disease. Epigenetics is the instruction-set-architecture in living cells that defines and maintains the cellular identity by regulating the cellular transcriptome. Although different cells contain the same genetic material, they have different epigenomic signatures. The epigenome is plastic, dynamic and highly responsive to environmental stimuli. Modifications to the epigenome are driven by an array of epigenetic enzymes generally referred to as writers, erasers and readers that define cellular fate and destiny. The reversibility of these modifications raises hope for finding novel therapeutic targets for modifiable pathological conditions including atherosclerosis where the involvement of epigenetics is increasingly appreciated. This article provides a critical review of the up-to-date research in the field of epigenetics mainly focusing on in vivo settings in the context of the cellular role of individual vascular cell types in the development of atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1165-1187
Number of pages23
JournalClinical Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

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