About this Research Topic
Based on recent estimates, ~50% of Europeans are overweight, 20% are obese and 10% have type 2 diabetes. Indeed, obesity and insulin resistance impact European health to the tune of €110 billion a year. High blood glucose alone kills approximately 3.4 million people annually. Incidences of diabetes are estimated to double by 2030, jeopardizing human health and reducing our quality of life. The EU, WHO and national governments are investing major resources to reduce the increasing burden of the “metabolic syndrome” through better education, prevention and new therapies. Obesity and diabetes have multiple causes in our genes, nutrition and lifestyle. The overconsumption of simple sugars and alcohol, high-fat diets and/or insufficient physical activity all contribute to metabolic disorders.
Nutrients and metabolites regulate physiology and health by directly modifying chromatin, the protein–DNA complex that packages our genome. The dynamic nature of chromatin is the basis of epigenetics, which can confer long-term pathological changes in gene activity. Nutrients thus impact our body, but we have little insight of how specific organs and cell types change gene activity as our nutrition changes. Although we know that metabolism and chromatin intertwine, insight into molecular mechanisms is incomplete and potential drug targets are only starting to emerge. This limits our ability to assess risk, prevent and treat metabolic diseases. Therefore, understanding how cellular metabolites regulate genes is at the forefront of our needs if we aim to target the pathophysiology of multiple lifestyle-linked complex diseases. This way, metabolic enzymes, gene regulators and chromatin factors critically determine how nutrients affect health and disease and these proteins represent excellent drug targets. This Research Topic aims to understand how chromatin is steered by metabolism to sustain health or cause disease, and to exploit our new knowledge and expertise to develop new therapies.
Keywords: Metabolism, epigenetics, cancer, diabetes, transcription
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