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Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2011 Jul;17(4):279-85. doi: 10.1097/MCP.0b013e3283477533.

Lung cancer and its association with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: update on nexus of epigenetics.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Medicine, Lung Biology and Disease Program, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, USA.



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The current research is focused on identifying the common and disparate events involved in epigenetic modifications that concurrently occur during the pathogenesis of COPD and lung cancer. The purpose of this review is to describe the current knowledge and understanding of epigenetic modifications in pathogenesis of COPD and lung cancer.


This review provides an update on advances of how epigenetic modifications are linked to COPD and lung cancer, and their commonalities and disparities. The key epigenetic modification enzymes (e.g. DNA methyltransferases -- CpG methylation, histone acetylases/deacetylases and histone methyltransferases/demethylases) that are identified to play an important role in COPD and lung tumorigenesis and progression are described in this review.


Distinct DNA methyltransferases and histone modification enzymes are differentially involved in pathogenesis of lung cancer and COPD, although some of the modifications are common. Understanding the epigenetic modifications involved in pathogenesis of lung cancer or COPD with respect to common and disparate mechanisms will lead to targeting of epigenetic therapies against these disorders.

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