It is clear that dietary factors can induce epigenetic changes – i.e. can alter patterns of DNA methylation and
histone posttranslational modifications in the genome. At least part of the epigenetic effects elicited by diet in infants may
result in long-lasting changes in gene expression within an individual’s lifetime and, at least in animal models, transgenerationally.
Therefore, these epigenetic modifications can be regarded as early molecular events of potentially critical
relevance to vascular disease prevention. A comprehensive description of dietary factor-induced changes in the epigenome
– including both protective and risk-generating factors – is needed to appreciate the extent and relevance of these
early molecular events. A second critical goal yet to be achieved is the description of the epigenome of cell types participating
in atherogenesis. By combining these two approaches, research promises to generate information that can be translated
into improved vascular disease prevention. Here, we review recent advances in the field of epigenetics, dietary factors
and vascular disease.