Tag Archives | Epigenetics

Epigenetic Tie to Neuropsychiatric Disorders Found

2D structure of neurotransmitter dopamine. Created with BKChem and Extensible SVG Optimiser

2D structure of neurotransmitter dopamine. Created with BKChem and Extensible SVG Optimiser

Could this discovery lead to the end of “treating” mental illness through the endless prescribing of psychiatric drugs?

Via ScienceDaily:

Dysfunction in dopamine signaling profoundly changes the activity level of about 2,000 genes in the brain’s prefrontal cortex and may be an underlying cause of certain complex neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, according to UC Irvine scientists.

This epigenetic alteration of gene activity in brain cells that receive this neurotransmitter showed for the first time that dopamine deficiencies can affect a variety of behavioral and physiological functions regulated in the prefrontal cortex.

The study, led by Emiliana Borrelli, a UCI professor of microbiology & molecular genetics, appears online in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

“Our work presents new leads to understanding neuropsychiatric disorders,” Borrelli said. “Genes previously linked to schizophrenia seem to be dependent on the controlled release of dopamine at specific locations in the brain.

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You Might Have Inherited Your Ancestors’ Fears

PIC: Hale Woodruff "Ancestral Memory" (CC)

PIC: Hale Woodruff “Ancestral Memory” (CC)

While not widely accepted in psychiatric circles, C.G. Jung’s theories about “racial memory” (more commonly known now as “genetic memory”) became a popular trope in the writings of writers like Robert E. Howard, Jean Auel, and Frank Herbert, all of whom used it to introduce things into their stories that their characters might not otherwise know. Now it seems that a couple of scientists may have proven that there is at least some truth to the idea that we can inherit memories of a sort from our ancestors.

Via Discover Magazine:

Geneticists were especially surprised to find that epigenetic change could be passed down from parent to child, one generation after the next. A study from Randy Jirtle of Duke University showed that when female mice are fed a diet rich in methyl groups, the fur pigment of subsequent offspring is permanently altered. Without any change to DNA at all, methyl groups could be added or subtracted, and the changes were inherited much like a mutation in a gene.

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Hold That Cheeseburger: Your Diet Can Change Your Future Kids’ DNA

Via LiveScience:

You are what you eat. Or rather, your children will be. Animal experiences seem to suggest that an individual’s dietary habits can actually change their DNA, leading to greater risks for mutations in subsequent generations. Does this mean that you’re doomed to have a McBaby? No, not necessarily: With the right food choices the genetic changes may be beneficial as well.

“It is possible that eating more omega-3 fatty acids, choline, betaine, folic acid and vitamin B12, by mothers and fathers, possibly can alter chromatin state and mutations, as well as have beneficial effects…leading to birth of a ‘super baby’ with long life and [lower risk] of diabetes and metabolic syndrome,” Singh told LiveScience. “This is just a possibility, to be proven by more experiments.”

Read more at LiveScience.

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