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Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2012 Aug;13(10):2046-53.

Epigenetics and Sjögren's syndrome.

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  • 1EA2216 Immunology and Pathology, IFR 148 ScInBioS, Université de Brest, Brest, France.


There is growing evidence that epigenetics, the study of heritable changes in gene expression that do not involve mutations in the DNA itself, may play an essential role in autoimmune diseases (AID). In Sjögren's syndrome (SS), a chronic AID characterized by an epithelis of the exocrine glands, epigenetic studies have focused on three mechanisms: DNA methylation and its consequences including human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) expression; microRNA expression; and protein post-translational modifications associated with autoantibody production. Although in its infancy, comprehension of the epigenetic (dys)regulation in SS may help us to understand: why SS affects predominantly middle-aged women; why genetically predisposed individuals develop SS but not others; why flare-ups occur; why treatment responses differ between patients; and why some patients develop lymphoma. From these studies will arise a better comprehension of the pathophysiology of SS as well as development of new diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, and novel therapeutics for prevention and perhaps early intervention.

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