Epigenetic memories of stress as therapeutic targets

This 2015 Swedish rodent study found:

Histone modifications induced by glucose are associated with activation of TXNIP gene [a proinflammatory gene involved in diabetic kidney disease] transcription.

Glucose-stimulated TXNIP gene expression can be

  • reversed by inhibition of histone acetyltransferase (HAT), or
  • enhanced by inhibition of histone deacetylase (HDAC).”

A 2016 Japanese commentary expounded on the study:

“Epigenetic changes accumulate as cell memory, and this epigenetic memory plays a crucial role in the long-term consequences of adult-onset diseases and aging.

The first stimulus, which might be high glucose levels or hypoxia, changes the condition of histone modification or chromosomal conformations. The changes are then memorized as epigenetic memory in the cells, which could help to maintain epigenetic status in response to the first stimulus.

Consequently, when a second stimulus occurs, cells with epigenetic memory respond to the stimulus promptly by the upregulation of downstream genes through binding transcriptional factors. The cells without epigenetic memory take longer to upregulate the expression of downstream target genes.

High glucose levels that are sustained for long periods appear to change histone modification, resulting in the prompt response of TXNIP gene upregulation. Considering that TXNIP is an important proinflammatory gene, this prompt response increases the likelihood of diabetic complications. TXNIP is reported to be augmented by high glucose levels and to promote oxidative stress.”

The study and commentary provided specific examples of the wide-ranging forms of physiological memory induced by stress.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0085253815000927 “Epigenetic regulation of the thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) gene by hyperglycemia in kidney”

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