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Epigenetics in liver disease: from biology to therapeutics
  1. Timothy Hardy1,2,
  2. Derek A Mann1
  1. 1Fibrosis Laboratories, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Derek A Mann, Fibrosis Laboratories, Institute of Cellular Medicine, 4th Floor William Leech Bdg., Newcastle University, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK; derek.mann{at}


Knowledge of the fundamental epigenetic mechanisms governing gene expression and cellular phenotype are sufficiently advanced that novel insights into the epigenetic control of chronic liver disease are now emerging. Hepatologists are in the process of shedding light on the roles played by DNA methylation, histone/chromatin modifications and non-coding RNAs in specific liver pathologies. Alongside these discoveries are advances in the technologies for the detection and quantification of epigenetic biomarkers, either directly from patient tissue or from body fluids. The premise for this review is to survey the recent advances in the field of liver epigenetics and to explore their potential for translation by industry and clinical hepatologists for the design of novel therapeutics and diagnostic/prognostic biomarkers. In particular, we present findings in the context of hepatocellular carcinoma, fibrosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, where there is urgent unmet need for new clinical interventions and biomarkers.


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  • Funding TH is the recipient of a Clinical Research Training Fellowship from the Medical Research Council, UK (Project Reference MR/L002094/1). DAM is funded by Medical Research Council, UK (grant MR/K001949/1).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Disclaimer While every effort has been made to comprehensively search the relevant literature, inevitably due to space constraints some studies may have been omitted from the review.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.