DNA methylation in fibrosis

Christopher Dowson, Steven O'Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Fibrosis is characterised by an exuberant wound healing response and the major cell type responsible is the myofibroblast. The myofibroblast is typified by excessive ECM production and contractile activity and is demarcated by alpha-smooth muscle actin expression. What has recently come to light is that the activation of the fibroblast to myofibroblast may be under epigenetic control, specifically methylation. Methylation of DNA is a conserved mechanism to precisely regulate gene expression in a specific context. Hypermethylation leads to gene repression and hypomethylation results in gene induction. Methylation abnormalities have recently been uncovered in fibrosis, both organ specific and widespread fibrosis. The fact that these methylation changes are rapid and reversible lends themselves amenable to therapeutic intervention. This review considers the role of methylation in fibrosis and the activation of the myofibroblasts and how this could be targeted for fibrosis. Fibrosis is of course currently intractable to therapeutics and is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality and is an urgent unmet clinical need.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-330
JournalEuropean Journal of Cell Biology
Issue number9
Early online date14 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


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