Mammalian Genome

, 20:624

Epigenetics: deciphering how environmental factors may modify autoimmune type 1 diabetes


DOI: 10.1007/s00335-009-9213-6

Cite this article as:
MacFarlane, A.J., Strom, A. & Scott, F.W. Mamm Genome (2009) 20: 624. doi:10.1007/s00335-009-9213-6


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that has increased two- to threefold over the past half century by as yet unknown means. It is generally accepted that T1D is the result of gene–environment interactions, but such rapid increases in incidence are not explained by Mendelian inheritance. There have been numerous advances in our knowledge of the pathogenesis of T1D. Indeed, there has been a large number of genes identified that contribute to risk for this disease and several environmental factors have been proposed. The complexity of such interactions is yet to be understood for any major chronic disease. Epigenetic regulation is one way to explain the rapid increase in incidence and could be a central mechanism by which environmental factors influence development of diabetes. However, there is remarkably little known about the contribution of epigenetics to T1D pathogenesis. Here we speculate on various candidate processes and molecules of the immune and endocrine systems that could modify risk for T1D through epigenetic regulation.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nutrition Research Division, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health CanadaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Chronic Disease ProgramOttawa Hospital Research InstituteOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and ImmunologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  4. 4.Department of MedicineUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada