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Autoimmune Diseases
Volume 2012, Article ID 593720, 16 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/593720
Review Article

Epigenetics and Autoimmune Diseases

Center for Autoimmune Diseases Research (CREA), School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universidad del Rosario, Carrera 24 no. 63C-69 Bogotá, Colombia

Received 11 October 2011; Revised 6 December 2011; Accepted 14 December 2011

Academic Editor: Juan-Manuel Anaya

Copyright © 2012 Paula Quintero-Ronderos and Gladis Montoya-Ortiz. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Epigenetics is defined as the study of all inheritable and potentially reversible changes in genome function that do not alter the nucleotide sequence within the DNA. Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation, histone modification, nucleosome positioning, and microRNAs (miRNAs) are essential to carry out key functions in the regulation of gene expression. Therefore, the epigenetic mechanisms are a window to understanding the possible mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of complex diseases such as autoimmune diseases. It is noteworthy that autoimmune diseases do not have the same epidemiology, pathology, or symptoms but do have a common origin that can be explained by the sharing of immunogenetic mechanisms. Currently, epigenetic research is looking for disruption in one or more epigenetic mechanisms to provide new insights into autoimmune diseases. The identification of cell-specific targets of epigenetic deregulation will serve us as clinical markers for diagnosis, disease progression, and therapy approaches.