The epigenetic implication in coronavirus infection and therapy

Sandra Atlante, Alessia Mongelli, Veronica Barbi, Fabio Martelli, Antonella Farsetti, Carlo Gaetano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Epigenetics is a relatively new field of science that studies the genetic and non-genetic aspects related to heritable phenotypic changes, frequently caused by environmental and metabolic factors. In the host, the epigenetic machinery can regulate gene expression through a series of reversible epigenetic modifications, such as histone methylation and acetylation, DNA/RNA methylation, chromatin remodeling, and non-coding RNAs. The coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) is a highly transmittable and pathogenic viral infection. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which emerged in Wuhan, China, and spread worldwide, causes it. COVID-19 severity and consequences largely depend on patient age and health status. In this review, we will summarize and comparatively analyze how viruses regulate the host epigenome. Mainly, we will be focusing on highly pathogenic respiratory RNA virus infections such as coronaviruses. In this context, epigenetic alterations might play an essential role in the onset of coronavirus disease complications. Although many therapeutic approaches are under study, more research is urgently needed to identify effective vaccine or safer chemotherapeutic drugs, including epigenetic drugs, to cope with this viral outbreak and to develop pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis against COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156
JournalClinical Epigenetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 21 2020


  • Antiviral Agents/pharmacology
  • Betacoronavirus/physiology
  • Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy
  • Cytokines/genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral/drug effects
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Inflammation/immunology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional


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