Epigenetic Risk Profile of Diabetic Kidney Disease in High-Risk Populations

  • Lixia Xu
  • Rama Natarajan
  • Zhen ChenEmail author
Microvascular Complications—Nephropathy (M Afkarian and B Roshanravan, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Microvascular Complications—Nephropathy


Purpose of Review

Epigenetic variations have been shown to reveal vulnerability to diabetes and its complications. Although it has become clear that metabolic derangements, especially hyperglycemia, can impose a long-term metabolic memory that predisposes to diabetic complications, the underlying mechanisms remain to be understood. It has been suggested that epigenetics (e.g., histone modification, DNA methylation, and non-coding RNAs) help link metabolic disruption to aberrancies related to diabetic kidney disease (DKD). In this review, we discuss the key findings and advances made in the epigenetic risk profile of DKD and provide perspectives on the emerging topics that implicate epigenetics in DKD.

Recent Findings

Epigenetic profiles can be profoundly altered in patients with diabetes, in circulating blood cells as well as in renal tissues. These changes provide useful insight into the mechanisms of diabetic kidney injury and progressive kidney dysfunction.


Increasing evidence supports the role of epigenetic regulation in DKD. More studies are needed to elucidate the mechanism and importance of epigenetic changes in the initiation and progression of DKD and to further explore their diagnostic and therapeutic potential in the clinical management of patients with diabetes who have a high risk for DKD.


Diabetic nephropathy Diabetic kidney disease Epigenetic regulation 



The authors would like to acknowledge the support from Ella Fitzgerald Foundation. We apologize to colleagues whose important primary studies we were unable to cite due to space constraints.

Funding Information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Fund of China 81570609 and 81770667 (to X. L.), and US PHS NIH research grants K99/R00HL122368 (to Z.C.) and R01 DK065073, R01 DK081705, R01DK58191, R01 HL106089 (to R.N.).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Diabetes Complications and MetabolismBeckman Research InstituteDuarteUSA
  2. 2.Division of NephrologyGuangdong Academy of Medical Science and Guangdong General HospitalGuangzhouChina

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