Effects of early-life environments and epigenetics on cardiovascular disease risk in children: highlighting the role of twin studies

C. Sun, D.P. Burgner, A.L.B. Ponsonby, R. Saffery, Rae-Chi Huang, P.J. Vuillermin, M. Cheung, J.M. Craig

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    49 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide and originates in early life. The exact mechanisms of this early-life origin are unclear, but a likely mediator at the molecular level is epigenetic dysregulation of gene expression. Epigenetic factors have thus been posited as the likely drivers of early-life programming of adult-onset diseases. This review summarizes recent advances in epidemiology and epigenetic research of CVD risk in children, with a particular focus on twin studies. Classic twin studies enable partitioning of phenotypic variance within a population into additive genetic, shared, and nonshared environmental variances, and are invaluable in research in this area. Longitudinal cohort twin studies, in particular, may provide important insights into the role of epigenetics in the pathogenesis of CVD. We describe candidate gene and epigenome-wide association studies (EWASs) and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of CVD, and discuss the potential for evidence-based interventions. Identifying epigenetic changes associated with CVD-risk biomarkers in children will provide new opportunities to unravel the underlying biological mechanism of the origins of CVD and enable identification of those at risk for early-life interventions to alter the risk trajectory and potentially reduce CVD incidence later in life. Copyright © 2013 International Pediatric Research Foundation, Inc.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)523-530
    JournalPediatric Research
    Volume73
    Issue number4-2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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