Asthma prevalence has been on the increase, especially in North America compared with other continents. However, the prevalence of asthma differs worldwide, and in many countries the prevalence is stable or decreasing. This highlights the influence of environmental exposures, such as allergens, air pollution, and the environmental microbiome, on disease etiology and pathogenesis. The epigenome might provide the unifying mechanism that translates the influence of environmental exposures to changes in gene expression, respiratory epithelial function, and immune cell skewing that are hallmarks of asthma. In this review we will introduce the concept of the environmental epigenome in asthmatic patients, summarize previous publications of relevance to this field, and discuss future directions.
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