Exosomal Epigenetics

Eleni Papakonstantinou, Konstantina Dragoumani, George P Chrousos, Dimitrios Vlachakis


Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression that occur without changes to the underlying DNA sequence. Epigenetic modifications can include DNA methylation, histone modifications, and non-coding RNAs, among others. These modifications can influence the expression of genes by altering the way DNA is packaged and accessed by transcriptional machinery, thereby affecting cellular function and behavior. Epigenetic modifications can be influenced by a variety of factors, including environmental exposures, lifestyle factors, and aging, whilst abnormal epigenetic modifications have been implicated in a range of diseases, including cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and cardiovascular disease. The study of epigenetics has the potential to provide new insights into the mechanisms of disease and could lead to the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. Exosomes can transfer epigenetic information to recipient cells, thereby influencing various physiological and pathological processes, and the identification of specific epigenetic modifications that are associated with a particular disease could lead to the development of targeted therapies that restore normal gene expression patterns. In recent years, the emerging role of exosomal epigenetics in human breast milk, highlighting its significance in infant nutrition and immune development. Milk exosomes are shown to carry epigenetic regulators, including miRNAs and long non-coding RNAs, which can modulate gene expression in recipient cells. These epigenetic modifications mediated by milk exosomal RNAs have implications for the development of the gastrointestinal tract, immune system, and metabolic processes in infants.


epigenetics; breast milk exosomes; epigenetic regulation; xenomiRs; infant health

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14806/ej.29.0.1049


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