Air Pollution Could Alter Tags on DNA and Increase Risk for Neurodegenerative Disease

February 21, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Not only is air pollution a major environmental concern, but it poses major health issues. New research suggests that inhaling extremely small particles known as fine particulate matter could add epigenetic marks to DNA. This may potentially lead to stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cognitive impairments and neurodevelopmental disorders. We’re certainly learning more about how our exposure to environmental toxins, especially pollution, affects the chemical tags that attach to our DNA and our health. Previous studies have linked traffic-related air [more…]

What You Eat Adjusts Your Gut Microbiota and Epigenetic Marks

February 14, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

We’ve long known that what we eat affects the microbes in our bodies. Right now, hundreds of different species of bacteria are churning in our stomachs, working to protect us as well as survive within us. New research is showing that the bacterial microbiota of the gut could place chemical tags on our DNA and influence gene expression, potentially impacting our health and many aspects of our lives. Researchers have found that these microbes send out metabolites that impact epigenetic [more…]

Easing Pain with the Power of Epigenetics

February 7, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Alleviating pain effectively is a common goal of modern medicine, and new research suggests that epigenetics might lead us closer to achieving this goal. People who suffer from serious pain, such as those who have experienced severe burns, may someday be able to epigenetically ease their discomfort and reduce neural activation caused by painful stimuli. “Seeking new pain markers continues to be very important in the field of nociception, which analyses the subjective experience of pain, and a need that [more…]

High Estrogen Levels Might Epigenetically Protect Women From a Traumatic Event

January 31, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Whether a woman’s estrogen level is high or low could determine if she may be susceptible to developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to recent research. Estrogen has been found to epigenetically change gene activity in the brain and could even protect a woman from emotional numbness, flashbacks, and difficulty sleeping – all symptoms of PTSD – after a shocking or traumatic situation. Researchers analyzed an epigenetic mark called DNA methylation, which is known to turn genes off. They used [more…]

High Fat, Low Carb Diet Might Epigenetically Open Up DNA and Improve Mental Ability

January 24, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Could eating less carbohydrates and more fat relax DNA and boost mental function? Researchers found that a ketogenic diet – consuming high amounts of fat, adequate protein, and low carbohydrates – increases an epigenetic agent naturally produced by the body. This, in turn, may improve memory defects and bolster the growth and development of nervous tissue. In a study published in PNAS, researchers looked at mice with a genetic alteration similar to one found in humans who suffer from a [more…]

Demethylating Agent May Boost Chemotherapy Effectiveness for Specific Type of Childhood Leukemia

January 16, 2017 Natalie Crowley

Fifty years ago, a child diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common type of pediatric cancer, had little to no chance of survival. Today, those odds have increased dramatically thanks to tremendous advances in chemotherapy and other treatments. Cure rates for this type of leukemia can reach as high as 90 percent. Yet, there is one subgroup of pediatric ALL that is still very therapy resistant, T-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-ALL). T-ALL is an uncommon, though aggressive, subclass of [more…]

The Epigenetics of Honeybee Memory Offers a Glimpse Into Our Own Minds

January 10, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

The fascinating memory of a honeybee could give us hints about our own long-term memory formation, scientists suggest. According to a new study, epigenetic marks are added to the DNA of honeybees in a response to an enzyme known as DNA methyltransferase (Dmnt) and removed in response to a Dnmt inhibitor drug. This epigenetic mechanism may play a role in memory specificity and influence the removal and re-acquisition of memory. When human memory breaks down or fails, disorders such as [more…]

How Understanding an Individual’s Epigenetics Can Help Measure and Treat Addiction

January 3, 2017 WhatIsEpigenetics

For a long time humans have wondered if chemicals causing drug and alcohol addiction could be active in the genes and potentially passed on to the next generation. Although this was not scientifically proven until recent years, the fear of suffering from addictive diseases led children of addicts and former addicts to avoid alcohol and drugs completely. One of the scientific studies that give weight to this family history hypothesis on addiction was conducted at the Indiana University School of [more…]

Being Overweight Adds Distinct Epigenetic Marks to DNA

December 27, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Extra weight that you may have put on during the holidays could not only appear around your belly, but also add epigenetic tags to your DNA, suggests a new study. Having a high body mass index (BMI) was linked to additional methyl tags found at more than 200 areas on the genome, which affects gene expression and could predict susceptibility to some diseases like diabetes. “This issue is particularly relevant because an estimated one and a half billion people throughout [more…]

Dogs Exposed to BPA Give Us Epigenetic Clues About Our Own Wellbeing

December 20, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Exposure to a widespread environmental chemical could cause changes to chemical tags on DNA, which can impact the expression of genes and potentially increase the risk for disease. Researchers studied one of our closest companions – dogs – and the epigenetic effect of bisphenol-A (BPA) found in canned dog food. Since these animals share our environment more closely than any other species, they offer us valuable insight into the exposure of this toxic chemical and its potential epigenetic influence. Extensive [more…]

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