Epigenetics in liver disease: from biology to therapeutics

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Knowledge of the fundamental epigenetic mechanisms governing gene expression and cellular phenotype are sufficiently advanced that novel insights into the epigenetic control of chronic liver disease are now emerging. Hepatologists are in the process of shedding light on the roles played by DNA methylation, histone/chromatin modifications and non-coding RNAs in specific liver pathologies. Alongside these discoveries are advances in the technologies for the detection and quantification of epigenetic biomarkers, either directly from patient tissue or from body fluids. The premise for this review is to survey the recent advances in the field of liver epigenetics and to explore their potential for translation by industry and clinical hepatologists for the design of novel therapeutics and diagnostic/prognostic biomarkers. In particular, we present findings in the context of hepatocellular carcinoma, fibrosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, where there is urgent unmet need for new clinical interventions and biomarkers.

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