The scientists at Emory University School of Medicine showed new evidence that our parents’ behaviors before we are born may have a bigger influence on us than we previously imagined, although we know our parents have a big impact on our lives. The scientists used olfactory molecular specificity to examine the inheritance of parental traumatic exposure, a phenomenon that has been frequently observed, but not understood.
They subjected F0 mice to odor fear conditioning before conception and found that subsequently conceived F1 and F2 generations had an increased behavioral sensitivity to the F0-conditioned odor, but not to other odors. When an odor (acetophenone) that activates a known odorant receptor (Olfr151) was used to condition F0 mice, the behavioral sensitivity of the F1 and F2 generations to acetophenone was complemented by an enhanced neuroanatomical representation of the Olfr151 pathway. Bisulfite sequencing of sperm DNA from conditioned F0 males and F1 naive offspring revealed CpG hypomethylation in the Olfr151 gene.
In addition, in vitro fertilization, F2 inheritance and cross-fostering revealed that these transgenerational effects are inherited via parental gametes. These findings provide a framework for addressing how environmental information may be inherited transgenerationally at behavioral, neuroanatomical and epigenetic levels.
Source: Learn all about it and read more about their findings here: Dias BG et al: Parental olfactory experience influences behavior and neural structure in subsequent generations. Nat Neuroscience. 09 December 2013