Research Topic

The Epigenetic Scenery of Aging and Disease Viewed from the Mitochondrial Window

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The progressive increase in the elderly population, displaying chronic, degenerative diseases, imposes a heavy burden on welfare systems due to increased hospitalization and care needs. Better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the aging process is needed to assist approaches to sustainable ...

The progressive increase in the elderly population, displaying chronic, degenerative diseases, imposes a heavy burden on welfare systems due to increased hospitalization and care needs. Better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the aging process is needed to assist approaches to sustainable management of the ageing population.

The interindividual heterogeneity observed in ageing, and the attendant variable impact of old age on function, is the result of a complex interaction of genetic, environmental and stochastic factors. Epigenetic modifications are emerging as leading actors, since a relaxation of epigenetic control has been recently associated with a variety of age-related phenotypes as well as with the onset and progression of several disease.
Likewise, the prominent role of mitochondrial dysfunction in ageing and metabolic diseases, and the existence of epigenetic modifications within the mitochondrial genome have been extensively described. Mitochondrial function has been found moreover to impact cellular physiology by influencing the whole cell epigenome, and significant correlations among mitochondrial epigenetic marks, environmental exposure, cell and organismal phenotypes and disease development/progression have emerged. For example, long-term diet is now recognized to exert a major influence on phenotypic plasticity, health and disease via epigenetic modifications.

As mitochondria appear to be a critical interface where environmental factors influence physiologic and pathologic processes through epigenetic modifications, disentangling of the molecular mechanisms underlying these effects could lay the foundation for maintaining health and prevention or attenuation of the course of disease.

This Research Topic will include original research articles, reviews, perspectives, and opinion articles providing a current overview of mitochondrial function, mitochondrial epigenetics marks and environmental factors in health and disease states.
We welcome contributions addressing:

1) New insights into mitochondrial epigenetics;
2) The role of mitochondria in influencing whole cellular epigenome in both physiological and pathological conditions; and
3) The effect of environmental factors (e.g., nutrition, pollutants or drugs) across the lifespan and in pathological conditions, with particular reference to endocrine dysfunctions.


Keywords: Epigenetic modifications, Mitochondrial epigenetics, Aging, Disease


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