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Curr Vasc Pharmacol. 2014 Jan;12(1):77-86.

Epigenetics in vascular disease - therapeutic potential of new agents.

Author information

  • 1Cardiovascular Division, King's College London, The James Black Centre, 125 Coldharbour Lane, London SE5 9NU, UK. andriani.margariti@kcl.ac.uk.


Vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, angioplasty-induced restenosis, vessel graft arteriosclerosis and hypertension-related stenosis, remain the most prevalent cause of death in the developed world. The aetiology of vascular diseases is multifactorial with both genetic and environmental factors. Recently, some of the most promising research identifies the epigenetic modification of the genome to play a major role in the disease development, linking the environmental insults with gene regulation. In this process, modification of DNA by methylation, and histone modification by acetylation, methylation, phosphorylation and/or SUMOylation are reported. Importantly, recent studies demonstrated that histone deacetylase (HDAC) enzymes are crucial in endothelial integrity, smooth muscle proliferation and in the formation of arteriosclerosis in animal models. The study of HDACs has shown remarkable specificity of HDAC family members in vascular cell growth/death that influences the disease process. Interestingly, the effects of HDACs on arteriosclerosis development in animal models have been observed after HDAC inhibition using specific inhibitors. This provides a new approach for the treatment of vascular disease using the agents that influence the epigenetic process in vascular cells. This review updates the rapid advances in epigenetics of vascular diseases focusing on the role of HDAC family in atherosclerosis. It will also discuss the underlying mechanisms of histone acetylation in vascular cells and highlight the therapeutic potential of such agents.

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