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Transmitting stress response patterns across generations
Date:11/4/2013

Philadelphia, PA, November 4, 2013 Children of survivors of extremely stressful life events face adjustment challenges of their own, as has been most carefully studied among the children of Nazi Death Camp survivors. This "intergenerational" transmission of stress response has been studied predominately from the psychological perspective. However, recent research points to biological contributions as well.

Indeed, a new study just published in Biological Psychiatry demonstrates that offspring born to stressed mothers show stress-induced changes at birth, with altered behavior and gender-related differences that continue into adulthood.

"The notion that biological traits that are not coded by the sequence of DNA can be transmitted across generations is the focus of a field of research called epigenetics. This new paper implicates epigenetic regulation of a well-studied contributor to stress response, CRF1, in the intergenerational transmission of patterns of stress response," said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.

The researchers, led by Dr. Inna Gaisler-Salomon at University of Haifa in Israel, were interested in how stress modulates behavior and gene expression across generations. Previous studies in both humans and animals have shown that females exposed to stress even before they conceive can affect their children and even grandchildren.

In this study, they looked for a possible mechanism for these effects, focusing on the CRF1 gene. They studied adolescent female rats that went through a mild stress procedure before mating.

Stress led to an increase in CRF1 expression in the frontal cortex, a brain region involved in emotional regulation and decision making. Also, there was a dramatic increase in CRF1 expression in the egg cells of stressed females.

In the offspring of stressed female rats, brain CRF1 expression was increased as well, already at birth. "It seems that
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Contact: Rhiannon Bugno
Biol.Psych@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-0880
Elsevier
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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