Background: The transcriptional control of neuronal specification and early development
has been intensively studied over the past few decades. However, relatively little is known
about transcriptional programs associated with the maintenance of terminally differentiated
neuronal cells with respect to their functions, structures, and cell type-specific identity features.
Methods: Notably, largely because of the recent advances in related techniques such as next generation
sequencing and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing, the physiological implications of
system-wide regulation of gene expression through changes in chromatin states have begun to be
extensively studied in various contexts and systems, including the nervous system.
Results: Here, we attempt to review our current understanding of the link between chromatin
changes and neuronal maintenance in the period of life after the completion of neuronal development.
Perturbations involving chromatin changes in the system-wide transcriptional control are
believed to be closely associated with diverse aspects of neuronal aging and neurodegenerative
Conclusion: In this review, we focused on heterochromatin and epigenetic dysregulation in
neurodegenerative conditions as well as neuronal aging, the most important risk factor leading to
neuronal degeneration, in order to highlight the close association between chromatin changes and
neuronal maintenance. Lastly, we reviewed the currently available and potential future applications
of pharmacological control of the chromatin states associated with neuronal maintenance.