Epigenetic modifications of the immune system in health and disease

Yuuki Obata, Yukihiro Furusawa, Koji Hase

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


Vertebrate animals have developed sophisticated host defense mechanisms against potentially hostile antigens. These mechanisms mainly involve the immune system and the epithelial cells that cover the body surface. Accumulating studies have revealed that epigenetic mechanisms in collaboration with signal transduction networks regulate gene expression over the course of differentiation, proliferation and function of immune and epithelial cells. The epigenetic status of these cells is fine-tuned under physiological conditions; however, its disturbance often results in the development of immunological disorders, namely inflammation. Certain environmental factors influence the differentiation and function of immune cells through epigenetic alterations. For example, commensal microbiota-derived metabolites inhibit histone deacetylases to induce regulatory T cells, whereas some infectious agents induce DNA methylation, resulting in the development of cancer. These data imply that epigenetic regulation of host defense cells, which are usually the first to encounter external antigens, is implicated in disease development. Here, we highlight recent advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which the epigenetic status of immune and epithelial cells is controlled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-232
Number of pages7
JournalImmunology and Cell Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar 19

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Epigenetic modifications of the immune system in health and disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this