Nowadays, epigenetic mechanisms involving DNA methylation, histone modifications and microRNA regulation emerge as important players in cardiovascular disease (CVD). Epigenetics may provide the missing link between environment, genome and disease phenotype and be responsible for the strong interindividual variation in disease risk factors underlying CVD. Daily diet is known to have a major influence on both the development and the prevention of CVD. Interestingly, the dietary lifestyle of our (grand)parents and of us contributes to CVD risk by metabolic (re)programming of our epigenome in utero, after birth or during life. In contrast to genetic mutations, the plasticity of CVD related epigenetic changes makes them attractive candidates for nutritional prevention or pharmacological intervention. Although a growing number of epidemiologic studies have shown a link between the ingestion of nutritional polyphenols and cardiovascular health benefits, potential involvement of epigenetic mechanisms has been underexplored. In this review, we will give an overview of epigenetic alterations in atherosclerosis, with the focus on DNA and histone modifications by chromatin-modifying proteins. Finally, we illustrate that cocoa flavanols and other classes of dietary molecules may promote cardiovascular health by targeting multiple classes of chromatin writer-reader-eraser proteins related to histone acetylation-methylation and DNA methylation.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis, chromatin-modifying enzymes, diet, DNA methylation, epigenetics, flavanols, histone modifications,
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