Navigation Links
New research shows childhood adversity causes changes in genetics
Date:2/27/2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. In a look at how major stressors during childhood can change a person's biological risk for psychiatric disorders, researchers at Butler Hospital have discovered a genetic alteration at the root of the association. The research, published online in PLoS ONE on January 25, 2012, suggests that childhood adversity may lead to epigenetic changes in the human glucocorticoid receptor gene, an important regulator of the biological stress response that may increase risk for psychiatric disorders.

The association between childhood adversity, including parental loss and childhood maltreatment, and risk for psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety has been established in multiple studies. However, researchers have yet to define how and why this association exists in humans. "We need to understand the biology of this effect in order to develop better treatment and prevention programs," said Audrey Tyrka, MD, PhD, director of the Laboratory for Clinical and Translational Neuroscience at Butler Hospital and associate professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University. "Our research group turned to the field of epigenetics to determine how environmental conditions in childhood can influence the biological stress response."

Epigenetics is the study of changes to the genome that do not alter the DNA sequence, but influence whether genes will be expressed, or "turned on," versus whether they will be silenced. Knowing that the connection between childhood maltreatment and psychiatric disorders has been linked to the hormone system that coordinates biological stress responses, the researchers sought to identify the root cause at a genetic level.

The glucocorticoid receptor is an important regulator of the stress response, and methylation is a particularly stable type of epigenetic modification. "We knew that epigenetic changes to this gene could be affected by childhood parenting experiences because previous animal research showed that rodents with low levels of maternal care had increased methylation of this gene, and consequently, as adults these animals had greater stress sensitivity and fear in stressful situations," said Tyrka.

The researchers looked at 99 healthy adults, some of whom had a history of parental loss or childhood maltreatment. DNA was extracted from each of the participants using a blood sample, then analyzed to identify epigenetic changes to the glucocorticoid receptor. The researchers then performed a standardized hormone provocation test to measure the stress hormone, cortisol.

The researchers found that adults with a history of childhood adversitymaltreatment or parental losshad increased methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) gene, which is thought to change the way this gene is expressed on a long-term basis. They also found that greater methylation was linked to blunted cortisol responses to the hormone provocation test. "Our results suggest that exposure to stressful experiences during childhood may actually alter the programming of an individual's genome. This concept may have broad public health implications, as it could be a mechanism for the association of childhood trauma with poor health outcomes, including psychiatric disorders as well as medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease," said Tyrka.

In early studies of animals, researchers have identified drugs that can reverse methylation effects. "More research is needed to better understand the epigenetic mechanism behind this association," said Tyrka, noting a larger scale study currently underway at Butler and a study of this association in children. "This line of research may allow us to better understand who is most at risk and why, and may allow for the development of treatments that could reverse epigenetic effects of childhood adversity."


'/>"/>
Contact: Holly Brown-Ayers
hbrownayers@butler.org
401-455-6265
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Wistar Institute researcher receives New Innovator award from NIH
2. NC State researchers get to root of parasite genome
3. White Mountain Research Station to host climate change conference
4. Stevens awarded $1M for advanced biofuels research
5. Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change
6. Researchers find an essential gene for forming ears of corn
7. Researchers note differences between people and animals on calorie restriction
8. Researcher working on destruction of chemical weapons
9. Researchers study acoustic communication in deep-sea fish
10. Researchers discover that growing up too fast may mean dying young in honey bees
11. The Rett Syndrome Research Trust launches operations
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2017)... ITHACA, N.Y. , June 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... leader in dairy research, today announced a new collaboration ... reduce the chances that the global milk supply is ... dairy project, Cornell University has become the newest academic ... Supply Chain, a food safety initiative that includes IBM ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... -- Veratad Technologies, LLC ( www.veratad.com ), an innovative and ... solutions, announced today they will participate as a sponsor ... May 17, 2017, in Washington D.C.,s ... Identity impacts the lives of billions of ... digital world, defining identity is critical to nearly every ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... 2017 Janice Kephart , former ... Strategy Partners, LLP (IdSP) , today issues the ... Trump,s March 6, 2017 Executive Order: Protecting ... can be instilled with greater confidence, enabling the ... refugee applications are suspended by until at least ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/17/2017)... ... September 17, 2017 , ... ... Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (KMFDS) for an Investigational New Drug ... Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The study in Korea represents the second ...
(Date:9/14/2017)... , ... September 14, 2017 ... ... the launch of its CliniControl™ (CC) product portfolio, clinically-relevant starting and ancillary ... translation of human Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cell (hMSC)-based therapies. The CliniControl product portfolio ...
(Date:9/14/2017)... , ... September 14, 2017 , ... AIM Global, the ... Tracking Systems Inc. has won the 2017 Case Study Competition for AIDC. The ... provide benefits that decrease risk” and push the adoption of automated data collection systems ...
(Date:9/12/2017)... ... 12, 2017 , ... PhysIQ, a Chicago-based company that provides ... monitoring and clinical trial support, earned DPharm Idol 2017 honors at the 7th ... Launched in 2005, PhysIQ leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to empower digital health. The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: