Subacute and Chronic Spinal Cord Injury: A Scoping Review of Epigenetics and Secondary Health Conditions

Letitia Y. Graves, Kayla F. Keane, Jacquelyn Y. Taylor, Tzu Fang Wang, Leorey Saligan, Kath M. Bogie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Epigenetics studies the impact of environmental and behavioral factors on stable phenotypic changes; however, the state of the science examining epigenomic mechanisms of regulation related to secondary health conditions (SHCs) and neuroepigenetics in chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) remain markedly underdeveloped. Objective: This scoping review seeks to understand the state of the science in epigenetics and secondary complications following SCI. Methods: A literature search was conducted, yielding 277 articles. The inclusion criteria were articles (1) investigating SCI and (2) examining epigenetic regulation as part of the study methodology. A total of 23 articles were selected for final inclusion. Results: Of the 23 articles 52% focused on histone modification, while 26% focused on DNA methylation. One study had a human sample, while the majority sampled rats and mice. Primarily, studies examined regeneration, with only one study looking at clinically relevant SHC, such as neuropathic pain. Discussion: The findings of this scoping review offer exciting insights into epigenetic and neuroepigenetic application in SCI research. Several key genes, proteins, and pathways emerged across studies, suggesting the critical role of epigenetic regulation in biological processes. This review reinforced the dearth of studies that leverage epigenetic methods to identify prognostic biomarkers in SHCs. Preclinical models of SCI were genotypically and phenotypically similar, which is not reflective of the heterogeneity found in the clinical population of persons with SCI. There is a need to develop better preclinical models and more studies that examine the role of genomics and epigenomics in understanding the diverse health outcomes associated with traumatic SCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEpigenetics Insights
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • Spinal cord injury
  • epigenetics
  • neuroepigenetics
  • scoping review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics


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