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 conditions.
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.