Epigenetic Lessons Learned in Obesity and Inflammation

Epigenetic Lessons Learned in Obesity and Inflammation

Table of Contents

Obesity: A Risk Factor for Inflammation

Obesity is well-characterized as a risk factor for increased systemic inflammation, particularly through the modification of immature blood cells. Also called hematopoietic cells, these immature blood cells are the “parent” cells of red blood cells as well as all major lineages of the cells in the immune system.

Evidence has suggested that factors associated with obesity, such as high levels of free fatty acids, predispose certain types of innate immune cells to a pro-inflammatory state. These inflammatory immune cells can travel to other parts of the body: for example, in the eye, they can trigger age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease of progressive degeneration of sight. However, the mechanism of how obesity reprograms these immune cells has remained unclear.

Obesity-Induced Epigenetic Reprogramming

In a recent paper published in Science, Hata et. al. reported that diet-induced obesity epigenetically reprograms the innate immune system in mice and that this reprogramming persists even after weight loss and a return to normal metabolism. The authors demonstrated that excess stearic acid, a free fatty acid associated with obesity, can remodel chromatin.

The ensuing changes to chromatin states upregulated pro-inflammatory cytokine production by affecting myeloid cells, the class of cells that eventually differentiate into macrophages and other immune cell types. The authors concluded that current or past obesity, via permanent epigenetic modifications, can exacerbate inflammatory diseases like AMD.

Outsourcing Bioinformatics Analysis: How Bridge Informatics Can Help

The role of epigenetics in human disease is rapidly coming to the forefront of research. Examining methylation status, using ChIP-Seq and other emerging assays allows for a constantly improving understanding of “epigenomics.” Many of our clients at Bridge Informatics are pursuing these kinds of research questions with sophisticated bioinformatics approaches. From pipeline development and software engineering to deploying existing bioinformatics tools, Bridge Informatics can help you on every step of your research journey.

As experts across data types from cutting-edge sequencing platforms, we can help you tackle the challenging computational tasks of storing, analyzing, and interpreting genomic and transcriptomic data. Bridge Informatics’ bioinformaticians are trained bench biologists, so they understand the biological questions driving your computational analysis. Click here to schedule a free introductory call with a member of our team.

Jane Cook, Biochemist & Content Writer, Bridge Informatics

Jane Cook, the leading Content Writer for Bridge Informatics, has written over 100 articles on the latest topics and trends for the bioinformatics community. Jane’s broad and deep interdisciplinary molecular biology experience spans developing biochemistry assays to genomics. Prior to joining Bridge, Jane held research assistant roles in biochemistry research labs across a variety of therapeutic areas. While obtaining her B.A. in Biochemistry from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, Jane also studied journalism at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. As a native Texan, she embraces any challenge that comes her way. Jane hails from Dallas but returns to Ireland any and every chance she gets. If you’re interested in reaching out, please email [email protected] or [email protected].

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