Epigenetic regulation in neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative diseases.
From fertilization throughout development and until death, cellular programs in individual cells are dynamically regulated to fulfill multiple functions ranging from cell lineage specification to adaptation to internal and external stimuli. Such regulation is of major importance in brain cells, because the brain continues to develop long after birth and incorporates information from the environment across life. When compromised, these regulatory mechanisms can have detrimental consequences on neurodevelopment and lead to severe brain pathologies and neurodegenerative diseases in the adult individual. Elucidating these processes is essential to better understand their implication in disease etiology. Because they are strongly influenced by environmental factors, they have been postulated to depend on epigenetic mechanisms. This review describes recent studies that have identified epigenetic dysfunctions in the pathophysiology of several neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. It discusses currently known pathways and molecular targets implicated in pathologies including imprinting disorders, Rett syndrome, and Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Hungtinton's disease, and their relevance to these diseases. Copyright © 2012 IBRO. All rights reserved.