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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Notable epigenetic role of hyperhomocysteinemia in atherogenesis

Shuyu Zhou, Zhizhong Zhang and Gelin Xu*

Author Affiliations

Department of Neurology, Jinling Hospital, Nanjing University School of Medicine, 305 East Zhongshan Road, Nanjing 210002, Jiangsu Province, China

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2014, 13:134  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-134

Published: 21 August 2014

Abstract

Atherosclerosis is associated with multiple genetic and modifiable risk factors. There is an increasing body of evidences to indicate that epigenetic mechanisms also play an essential role in atherogenesis by influencing gene expression. Homocysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid formed during methionine metabolism. Elevated plasma level of homocysteine is generally termed as hyperhomocysteinemia. As a potential risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, hyperhomocysteinemia may initiate or motivate atherogenesis by modification of DNA methylation. The underlying epigenetic mechanism is still unclear with controversial findings. This review focuses on epigenetic involvement and mechanisms of hyperhomocysteinemia in atherogenesis. Considering the potential beneficial effects of anti-homocysteinemia treatments in preventing atherosclerosis, further studies on the role of hyperhomocysteinemia in atherogenesis are warranted.

Keywords:
Atherosclerosis; Epigenetics; DNA methylation; Hyperhomocysteinemia