Lead exposure continues to threaten human health in a worldwide perspective. Among the multiple target organs affected by lead, central nervous system (CNS) pervades in the adverse consequences by chronic lead exposure, leading to a variety of neurotoxic manifestations and neurological disorders. The epigenetic machinery plays a vital role in the control of key neural functions, particularly neuronal development. Faulty epigenetic gene regulation can have marked deleterious effect on the developing brain that can last for an entire lifespan. Mounting evidence suggests that lead exposure can pose detrimental effect on CNS through these epigenetic mechanisms. And this chapter reviews the current understandings of concrete epigenetic forms, exemplified by DNA methylation, histone modification, and ncRNAs, responding to lead exposure and moderating the consequent neurotoxicity. In addition, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is presented as a typical instance to explain how environmental lead exposure results in the occurrence of AD in an “early exposure, late onset” fashion. A future perspective, highlighting additional forms of epigenetic elements as well as interactive actions among different molecules, was also proposed. In summary, epigenetics was substantially implicated in regulating lead neurotoxicity.
Part of the book: Lead Chemistry