, Volume 66, Issue 14, pp 2249-2261
Date: 27 Mar 2009

DNA hypomethylation in the origin and pathogenesis of human diseases

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Abstract

The pathogenesis of any given human disease is a complex multifactorial process characterized by many biologically significant and interdependent alterations. One of these changes, specific to a wide range of human pathologies, is DNA hypomethylation. DNA hypomethylation signifies one of the major DNA methylation states that refers to a relative decrease from the “normal” methylation level. It is clear that disease by itself can induce hypomethylation of DNA; however, a decrease in DNA methylation can also have an impact on the predisposition to pathological states and disease development. This review presents evidence suggesting the involvement of DNA hypomethylation in the pathogenesis of several major human pathologies, including cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and psychiatric disorders.

The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily represent those of the US Food and Drug Administration.