Epistasis Blog

From the Computational Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania (www.epistasis.org)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Epigenetic Epidemiology

This is a nice review on a hot new area. It will be interesting to know how much genetic information interacts with epigenetic information. This seems like an obvious layer of complexity in the genotype to phenotype map. This would be a good area for graduate students, postdocs or junior faculty to get into.

Foley DL, Craig JM, Morley R, Olsson CJ, Dwyer T, Smith K, Saffery R. Prospects for epigenetic epidemiology. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Feb 15;169(4):389-400. [PubMed]

Abstract

Epigenetic modification can mediate environmental influences on gene expression and can modulate the disease risk associated with genetic variation. Epigenetic analysis therefore holds substantial promise for identifying mechanisms through which genetic and environmental factors jointly contribute to disease risk. The spatial and temporal variance in epigenetic profile is of particular relevance for developmental epidemiology and the study of aging, including the variable age at onset for many common diseases. This review serves as a general introduction to the topic by describing epigenetic mechanisms, with a focus on DNA methylation; genetic and environmental factors that influence DNA methylation; epigenetic influences on development, aging, and disease; and current methodology for measuring epigenetic profile. Methodological considerations for epidemiologic studies that seek to include epigenetic analysis are also discussed.

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