Food and Behaviour Research

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Histone modifications and alcohol-induced liver disease: Are altered nutrients the missing link?

Moghe A, Joshi-Barve S, Ghare S, Gobejishvili L, Kirpich I, McClain CJ, Barve S. (2011) World J Gastroenterol.  17(20): 2465-72. 

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Alcoholism is a major health problem in the United States and worldwide, and alcohol remains the single most significant cause of liver-related diseases and deaths.

Alcohol is known to influence nutritional status at many levels including nutrient intake, absorption, utilization, and excretion, and can lead to many nutritional disturbances and deficiencies. Nutrients can dramatically affect gene expression and alcohol-induced nutrient imbalance may be a major contributor to pathogenic gene expression in alcohol-induced liver disease (ALD).

There is growing interest regarding epigenetic changes, including histone modifications that regulate gene expression during disease pathogenesis. Notably, modifications of core histones in the nucleosome regulate chromatin structure and DNA methylation, and control gene transcription.

This review highlights the role of nutrient disturbances brought about during alcohol metabolism and their impact on epigenetic histone modifications that may contribute to ALD. The review is focused on four critical metabolites, namely, acetate, S-adenosylmethionine, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide and zinc that are particularly relevant to alcohol metabolism and ALD.