Epigenetic mechanisms and models in the origins of asthma

Wilfried Karmaus, Ali H M Ziyab, Todd Everson, John W. Holloway

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Epigenetic mechanisms have the ability to alter the phenotype without changing the genetic code. The science of epigenetics has grown considerably in recent years, and future epigenetically based treatments or prevention strategies are likely. Epigenetic associations with asthma have received growing interest because genetic and environmental factors have been unable to independently explain the cause of asthma. RECENT FINDINGS: Recent findings suggest that both the environment and underlying genetic sequence variation influence DNA methylation, which in turn seems to modify the risk conferred by genetic variants for various asthma phenotypes. In particular, DNA methylation may act as an archive of a variety of early developmental exposures, which then can modify the risk related to genetic variants. SUMMARY: Current asthma treatments may control the symptoms of asthma but do not modify its natural history. Epigenetic mechanisms and novel explanatory models provide burgeoning approaches to significantly increase our understanding of the initiation and progression of asthma. Due to the inheritance of epigenetics, we anticipate a rapid emergence of critical information that will provide novel treatment strategies for asthma in the current generation and ultimately the prevention of asthma in future generations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-69
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


  • asthma
  • DNA methylation
  • epigenetics
  • methylation quantitative trait loci
  • modifiable genetic variants


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