Saturday, September 7, 2013

Epigenetic factors in endometriosis

Could epigenetic factors explain the hereditary factor and the environmental factors in endo?

"Endometriosis, a common, benign, estrogen-dependent disease affecting 3-10% of women of reproductive age, is characterized by the ectopic growth of endometrial tissue that is found primarily in the peritoneum, ovaries and rectovaginal septum. Recently, endometriosis has been alternatively described as an immune disease, a genetic disease and a disease caused by exposure to environmental factors, in addition to its usual description as a hormonal disease. In addition, accumulating evidence suggests that various epigenetic aberrations play definite roles in the pathogenesis of endometriosis."

"Unlike DNA mutations, epigenetic modifications are dynamic, constantly affected by environmental and lifestyle factors, which makes enzymes that affect epigenetic changes sought-after targets for drug development. Santanam emphasizes that so little is known about the epigenetics of pain. "When you look at pain research, they mostly focus on back pain, fibromyalgia – those types of diseases. There are only now looking at epigenetics of pain," says Santanam. "If you look at all the other fields, there are already epigenetic-related drugs available in the market."

"Conclusions: Our findings suggest that an epigenetically suppressed tumor suppressor gene is involved in the pathogenesis of endometriosis by creating the proliferative, antiapoptotic, and other disease-specific characteristics of endometriosis. The results also suggest that histone deacetylase inhibitors are promising agents for the treatment of endometriosis."

So what is epigenetics?

"Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity which are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence.[1] It is the study of gene expression, the way genes bring about their phenotypic effects.[2]
These changes in gene activity may stay for the remainder of the cell's life and may also last for many generations of cells, through cell divisions. However, there is no change in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism.[3] Instead, non-hereditary factors cause the organism's genes to behave (express themselves) differently."

Other Studies (courtesy of the great Endometriosis Research Center!):