Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors can be classed as modifiable or non-modifiable. Physical inactivity and obesity represent major behavioural risk factors for the initiation, development and progression of CVD. Platelet dysfunction is pivotal to the aetiology of CVD, a chronic vascular inflammatory condition, which is characterised by a lag time between onset and clinical manifestation. This indicates the role of epigenetic drift, defined by stochastic patterns of gene expression not dependent on dynamic changes in coding DNA. The epigenome, a collection of chemical marks on DNA and histones, is established during embryogenesis and modified by age and lifestyle. Biogenesis and effector function of non-coding RNA, such as microRNA, play a regulatory role in gene expression and thus the epigenetic mechanism. In this chapter, we will focus on the effect of the modifiable risk factors of physical activity/inactivity and overweight/obesity on platelet function, via epigenetic changes in both megakaryocytopoiesis and thrombopoiesis. We will also discuss the role of acute exercise on platelet function and the impact of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) on platelet responses to acute exercise. This chapter will highlight the potential role of platelets as circulating functional biomarkers of epigenetic drift to implement, optimise and monitor CVD preventive management strategies.
Part of the book: Homeostasis