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The role of epigenetic mechanisms and processes in autoimmune disorders

Authors Greer J, McCombe

Received 4 June 2012

Accepted for publication 12 July 2012

Published 6 September 2012 Volume 2012:6 Pages 307—327


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Judith M Greer, Pamela A McCombe

The University of Queensland, UQ Centre for Clinical Research, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Abstract: The lack of complete concordance of autoimmune disease in identical twins suggests that nongenetic factors play a major role in determining disease susceptibility. In this review, we consider how epigenetic mechanisms could affect the immune system and effector mechanisms in autoimmunity and/or the target organ of autoimmunity and thus affect the development of autoimmune diseases. We also consider the types of stimuli that lead to epigenetic modifications and how these relate to the epidemiology of autoimmune diseases and the biological pathways operative in different autoimmune diseases. Increasing our knowledge of these epigenetic mechanisms and processes will increase the prospects for controlling or preventing autoimmune diseases in the future through the use of drugs that target the epigenetic pathways.

Keywords: twins, concordance, autoimmune disease, nongenetic factors, immune system, epigenetic modifications

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