DNA methylation and its role in the pathogenesis of diabetes

Amita Bansal, Sara E. Pinney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


Although the factors responsible for the recent increase in the prevalence of diabetes worldwide are not entirely known, the morbidity associated with this disease results in substantial health and economic burden on society. Epigenetic modifications, including DNA methylation have been identified as one mechanism by which the environment interacts with the genome and there is evidence that alterations in DNA methylation may contribute to the increased prevalence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This review provides a summary of DNA methylation and its role in gene regulation, and includes descriptions of various techniques to measure site-specific and genome-wide DNA methylation changes. In addition, we review current literature highlighting the complex relationship between DNA methylation, gene expression, and the development of diabetes and related complications. In studies where both DNA methylation and gene expression changes were reported, DNA methylation status had a strong inverse correlation with gene expression, suggesting that this interaction may be a potential future therapeutic target. We highlight the emerging use of genome-wide DNA methylation profiles as a biomarker to predict patients at risk of developing diabetes or specific complications of diabetes. The development of a predictive model that incorporates both genetic sequencing and DNA methylation data may be an effective diagnostic approach for all types of diabetes and could lead to additional innovative therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-177
Number of pages11
JournalPediatric Diabetes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


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