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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 9607946, 11 pages
Review Article

Epigenetic Modulation as a Therapeutic Prospect for Treatment of Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases

1National Institute of Geriatrics Rheumatology and Rehabilitation, Department of Pathophysiology and Immunology, Warsaw, Poland
2Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Received 20 May 2016; Accepted 12 July 2016

Academic Editor: Nona Janikashvili

Copyright © 2016 Marzena Ciechomska and Steven O’Reilly. 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.


Systemic inflammatory rheumatic diseases are considered as autoimmune diseases, meaning that the balance between recognition of pathogens and avoidance of self-attack is impaired and the immune system attacks and destroys its own healthy tissue. Treatment with conventional Disease Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) and/or Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) is often associated with various adverse reactions due to unspecific and toxic properties of those drugs. Although biologic drugs have largely improved the outcome in many patients, such drugs still pose significant problems and fail to provide a solution to all patients. Therefore, development of more effective treatments and improvements in early diagnosis of rheumatic diseases are badly needed in order to increase patient’s functioning and quality of life. The reversible nature of epigenetic mechanisms offers a new class of drugs that modulate the immune system and inflammation. In fact, epigenetic drugs are already in use in some types of cancer or cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, epigenetic-based therapeutics that control autoimmunity and chronic inflammatory process have broad implications for the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and management of rheumatic diseases. This review summarises the latest information about potential therapeutic application of epigenetic modification in targeting immune abnormalities and inflammation of rheumatic diseases.