A Father’s Stress Felt for Generations

April 23, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

New scientific research suggests that the negative effects of trauma can be inherited. Fathers may actually transfer the consequences of their early experiences to their children via an epigenetic process. Researchers report that mice that experienced stress early on passed down the negative consequences – depression, underestimation of risk, and upset of metabolism – to their offspring, even if their offspring were not directly exposed to stress or trauma. In a recent study, Isabelle Mansuy and her colleagues at the [more…]

Eat Well, Exercise Regularly and Monitor Your Epigenome

April 11, 2014 Milka Rodriguez

Cardiometabolic disease (CMD) is a term used to define risk factors associated with the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  One major characteristic which contributes to these risk factors is obesity. Worldwide, obesity has nearly doubled since 1980 and in 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults 20 and older were overweight (1).  Additionally more than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2011 (1). Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death [more…]

DNA Methylation Patterns May Be Associated With Birth Weight Outcomes

March 21, 2014 Milka Rodriguez

We are well aware that environmental factors such as smoking, drinking and diet can affect fetal development; however, we do not have a clear understanding of the epigenetic factors that may be involved in this process. A new study now shows that epigenetics may also be involved in fetal growth – in particular birth weight. The scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted a study which examined the relationship between CpG-specific cord blood DNA methylation and [more…]

New Hope for People Suffering from Kidney Fibrosis

March 3, 2014 Milka Rodriguez

Injury to tissue in major organs such as the kidney causes inflammation which can lead to cell damage or cell death in the affected area. The human body is programmed with a normal physiological wound repair process for the damaged tissue – similar to the formation of a scar when we injure or damage our skin. Normally, once the injury has been contained, the wound repair process stops. Fibrosis is a pathological process similar to normal tissue wound repair; however, [more…]

“I Am No Longer Haunted By That Awful Memory” – New Epigenetic Drug Treatment May Erase Painful Memories

January 27, 2014 Milka Rodriguez

 Is it possible for a drug to dampen a traumatic memory? It may be, as researchers are discovering that a fundamental epigenetic mechanism is responsible for long-term fear memory. Neuroplasticity, also called brain plasticity, refers to the changes in neural connections such as synapses and neural pathways as a result of changes in behavior, environmental exposure and neural processes (1,2).  While it was once believed that the brain is a physiologically static organ and its networks were fixed, research over [more…]

Book Review: Epigenetics by Lyle Armstrong

January 13, 2014 Milka Rodriguez

The study of epigenetics has been around for some time, but to many it is still a relatively new field of research. Not that much is written about it or easy to reference on the web. That’s why we were thrilled when Garland Science announced its newest publication, Epigenetics by Lyle Armstrong, PhD, Newcastle University. This easy to follow and well-written scientific textbook brings together the structure and machinery of epigenetic modification, how epigenetic modification controls cellular functions, and the [more…]

Our Parents’ Lives Could Influence Memories Through Epigenetics

January 7, 2014 WhatIsEpigenetics

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 [more…]

Folate Deficiency in a Father’s Diet Could Cause Negative Pregnancy Outcomes by Changing Sperm Epigenome

December 18, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

Scientists at McGill University, Canada reported that folate deficiency in a father’s diet could increase birth defects in the offspring by altering sperm epigenome. These defects include craniofacial and musculoskeletal malformations. The scientists fed male mice either a folate-deficient or folate-sufficient diet throughout life and then performed genome-wide DNA methylation analysis and subsequent functional analysis to identify differential methylation in sperm of genes implicated in development, and chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, autism and schizophrenia. They found that >300 [more…]

The Epigenetic Landscape is a Key Determinant of Gene Expression Reprogramming in Cardiac Hypertrophy

December 4, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

The epigenetic signature for cardiac hypertrophy, which can progress to heart failure through an adaptive response of the myocardium to stress, is still poorly understood. The scientists at Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Rozzano, Italy report on the genome-wide distribution of seven histone modifications in adult mouse cardiomyocytes subjected to a prohypertrophy stimulus in vivo. They found a set of promoters with an epigenetic pattern that distinguishes specific functional classes of genes regulated in hypertrophy and identified 9,207 candidate active [more…]

RNA-Methylation-Dependent RNA Processing Controls the Speed of the Circadian Clock

November 18, 2013 Milka Rodriguez

Circadian rhythms are the physiological changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, such as the sleep-wake cycle. They are found in most living things including animals, plants and fungi. The mammalian circadian biological clock regulates metabolism via a negative transcription-translation feedback loop of clock genes. Histone protein methylation is an epigenetic modification which has been suggested to be involved in circadian clock regulation; however, the role of RNA methylation in this process is still unknown. The most common and abundant [more…]

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