The emerging role of epigenetic modifiers in repair of DNA damage associated with chronic inflammatory diseases

Ning Ding, Ashley R. Maiuri, Heather M. O'Hagan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

3 Scopus citations


At sites of chronic inflammation epithelial cells are exposed to high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can contribute to the initiation and development of many different human cancers. Aberrant epigenetic alterations that cause transcriptional silencing of tumor suppressor genes are also implicated in many diseases associated with inflammation, including cancer. However, it is not clear how altered epigenetic gene silencing is initiated during chronic inflammation. The high level of ROS at sites of inflammation is known to induce oxidative DNA damage in surrounding epithelial cells. Furthermore, DNA damage is known to trigger several responses, including recruitment of DNA repair proteins, transcriptional repression, chromatin modifications and other cell signaling events. Recruitment of epigenetic modifiers to chromatin in response to DNA damage results in transient covalent modifications to chromatin such as histone ubiquitination, acetylation and methylation and DNA methylation. DNA damage also alters non-coding RNA expression. All of these alterations have the potential to alter gene expression at sites of damage. Typically, these modifications and gene transcription are restored back to normal once the repair of the DNA damage is completed. However, chronic inflammation may induce sustained DNA damage and DNA damage responses that result in these transient covalent chromatin modifications becoming mitotically stable epigenetic alterations. Understanding how epigenetic alterations are initiated during chronic inflammation will allow us to develop pharmaceutical strategies to prevent or treat chronic inflammation-induced cancer. This review will focus on types of DNA damage and epigenetic alterations associated with chronic inflammatory diseases, the types of DNA damage and transient covalent chromatin modifications induced by inflammation and oxidative DNA damage and how these modifications may result in epigenetic alterations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-81
Number of pages13
JournalMutation Research - Reviews in Mutation Research
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • Chronic inflammation
  • DNA repair
  • Epigenetic alterations
  • Oxidative DNA damage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The emerging role of epigenetic modifiers in repair of DNA damage associated with chronic inflammatory diseases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this