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Acta Diabetol. 2015 Oct;52(5):821-7. doi: 10.1007/s00592-015-0741-0. Epub 2015 Apr 5.

Understanding type 2 diabetes: from genetics to epigenetics.

Author information

1
Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche Traslazionali, "Federico II" University of Naples Medical School, Naples, Italy.
2
Istituto per l' Endocrinologia e l' Oncologia Sperimentale del C.N.R, URT "Genomica Funzionale", Via Sergio Pansini, 5, 80131, Naples, Italy.
3
Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche Traslazionali, "Federico II" University of Naples Medical School, Naples, Italy. beguino@unina.it.
4
Istituto per l' Endocrinologia e l' Oncologia Sperimentale del C.N.R, URT "Genomica Funzionale", Via Sergio Pansini, 5, 80131, Naples, Italy. beguino@unina.it.

Abstract

The known genetic variability (common DNA polymorphisms) does not account either for the current epidemics of type 2 diabetes or for the family transmission of this disorder. However, clinical, epidemiological and, more recently, experimental evidence indicates that environmental factors have an extraordinary impact on the natural history of type 2 diabetes. Some of these environmental hits are often shared in family groups and proved to be capable to induce epigenetic changes which alter the function of genes affecting major diabetes traits. Thus, epigenetic mechanisms may explain the environmental origin as well as the familial aggregation of type 2 diabetes much easier than common polymorphisms. In the murine model, exposure of parents to environmental hits known to cause epigenetic changes reprograms insulin sensitivity as well as beta-cell function in the progeny, indicating that certain epigenetic changes can be transgenerationally transmitted. Studies from different laboratories revealed that, in humans, lifestyle intervention modulates the epigenome and reverts environmentally induced epigenetic modifications at specific target genes. Finally, specific human epigenotypes have been identified which predict adiposity and type 2 diabetes with much greater power than any polymorphism so far identified. These epigenotypes can be recognized in easily accessible white cells from peripheral blood, indicating that, in the future, epigenetic profiling may enable effective type 2 diabetes prediction. This review discusses recent evidence from the literature supporting the immediate need for further investigation to uncover the power of epigenetics in the prediction, prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.

KEYWORDS:

Epigenetics; Histone modifications; Methylation; MicroRNA; Personalized medicine; Type 2 diabetes

PMID:
25841587
DOI:
10.1007/s00592-015-0741-0
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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