An Introduction to Epigenetics in Cardiovascular Development, Disease, and Sexualization

  • Christine M. Cunningham
  • Mansoureh EghbaliEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1065)


Epigenetic regulation of gene expression is integral to cell differentiation, development, and disease. Modes of epigenetic regulation—including DNA methylation, histone modifications, and ncRNA-based regulation—alter chromatin structure, promotor accessibility, and contribute to posttranscriptional modifications. In the cardiovascular system, epigenetic regulation is necessary for proper cardiovascular development and homeostasis, while epigenetic dysfunction is associated with improper cardiac development and disease.

Early sexualization of tissues, including X-inactivation in females and maternal and paternal imprinting, is also orchestrated through epigenetic mechanisms. Furthermore, sex chromosomes encode various sex-specific genes involved in epigenetic regulation, while sex hormones can act as regulatory cofactors that may predispose or protect males and females against developing diseases with a marked sex bias.

The following book chapter summarizes the field of epigenetics in the context of cardiovascular development and disease while also highlighting the role of epigenetic regulation as a powerful source of sex differences within the cardiovascular system.


Epigenetics Cardiovascular disease Cardiovascular development Sex differences Sexualization Sex chromosomes Sex hormones 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Division of Molecular MedicineDavid Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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