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DNA modifications measured in blood signal related changes in the brain
Date:4/8/2014

king water to assess epigenetic changes to FKBP5. The researchers took blood samples weekly to measure the changes and then dissected the brains at the end of the month to study what changes were occurring in the hippocampus as a result of glucocorticoid exposure. The hippocampus, in both mice and humans, is vital to memory formation, information storage and organizational abilities.

The measurements showed that the more stress hormones the mice got, the greater the epigenetic changes in the blood and brain tissue, although the scientists say the brain changes occurred in a different part of the gene than expected. This was what made finding the blood-brain connection very challenging, Lee says.

Also, the more stress hormone, the more RNA from the FKBP5 gene was expressed in the blood and brain, and the greater the association with depression. However, it was the underlying epigenetic changes that proved to be more robust. This is important, because while RNA levels may return to normal after stress hormone levels decrease or change due to small fluctuations in hormone levels, epigenetic changes persist, reflect overall stress hormone exposure and predict how much RNA will be made when stress hormone levels increase.

The team of researchers used an epigenetic assay previously developed in their laboratory that requires just one drop of blood to accurately assess overall exposure to stress hormone over 30 days. Elevated levels of stress hormone exposure are considered a risk factor for mental illness in humans and other mammals.


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Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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