How Eating Zinc Could Affect DNA Methylation and the Immune System

April 28, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Zinc is a mineral that’s vital to our health and is involved in several aspects of cellular metabolism. According to the National Institutes of Health, zinc plays a role in a wide range of important processes like healing wounds, synthesizing proteins and DNA, and the division of cells. It’s even required to be able to taste and smell properly. Published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, recent evidence conducted at the Oregon State University also suggests that zinc affects the [more…]

Slaying the X in the Fairer Sex

April 14, 2015 Alexandre Daly

In arguably the greatest feat of epigenetic orchestration, every single cell in female marsupial and eutherian mammals permanently silences an entire chromosome. While many studied instances of epigenetic regulation involve the repression of a handful of genes, the process of X chromosome inactivation (XCI) effectively silences a 900-gene chromosome over the course of several days and does so for the entire life of the organism (1)(2). The process of entirely yet exclusively silencing one of the largest chromosomes in the [more…]

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Epigenetics

April 7, 2015 Mary Vagula

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a polygenic metabolic disease characterized by elevated blood sugar levels due to pancreatic beta-cell functional impairment and insulin resistance in tissues such as skeletal muscle, adipose tissue and the liver (1). Millions of people around the globe are diagnosed with diabetes, and its incidence is estimated to double by 2030. It has become one of the most challenging public health issues of 21st century and the fifth leading cause of death worldwide (2). The [more…]

DNA Methylation Influences Continuous Variation in Ant Worker Size

March 31, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Scientists have thought that differences in traits that exist along a continuum like skin color, height, intelligence, ability to gain weight, and risk for developing diseases were due to genetic and environmental factors. The connection between these two factors and how they interact together, however, has long been uncertain. Researchers from McGill University have conducted an epigenetic study on carpenter ants that reinforces the importance of a key epigenetic mechanism, known as DNA methylation, and supports the hypothesis that environmental [more…]

The Epigenetics of Depression

March 17, 2015 Adam Alonzi

Major depressive disorder (MDD) affects up to 17% of the world’s population. The WHO estimates it will be the second most costly disease to world governments by 2020. As devastating as it is to those who suffer from it, and to their loved ones, relatively little is known about its exact causes, and while diagnosis and treatment have advanced greatly over the past twenty years, far too many people continue to slip through the cracks (only about 50% of patients [more…]

Epigenetic Study Finds New Potential Drug Targets for Asthma and Allergies

February 24, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A new epigenetic study has identified 30 genes connected to allergies and asthma that make people more susceptible to these conditions. Using the newly discovered gene targets from this study, scientists could potentially create drugs to combat allergic diseases and reduce allergic responses. About 6.8 million children and 18.7 million adults in the U.S. suffer from asthma. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 60 million people suffer from both asthma and allergies, affecting 1 out of every [more…]

DNA Methylation Could Explain How People Respond to Fear and Anger

February 17, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A region of the brain known as the amygdala is normally activated when people perceive fear and anger in others. This region, which is part of the limbic system, conveys the message to other regions of the brain to prepare oneself for what may be a threatening situation. We’ve seen previous research that offers an epigenetic connection between DNA methylation of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) and how an individual responds to stress. In the present study, peoples’ brains respond [more…]

Epigenetic Changes Result from Breathing in Diesel Exhaust

January 20, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

New research exposes the epigenetic changes and harmful consequences that can occur as a result of exposure to diesel exhaust fumes. Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health have found that breathing in diesel exhaust fumes can lead to changes in DNA methylation levels, switching on and off certain genes. Diesel exhaust is given off when an engine burns diesel fuel and, according to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, “is a complex mixture of [more…]

Epigenetics of Skeletal Muscle Altered by Endurance Training

January 6, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

We all know that exercise is good for us, but researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden are exploring the epigenetic impact good exercise has on our skeletal muscles. We have previously touched on the effects of epigenetic changes on the development of diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In a recent study in Epigenetics, long-term endurance training has been shown to affect the epigenetic pattern present in the human skeletal muscle. The changed epigenetic patterns were shown to [more…]

Binge Drinking Can Lead to Harmful Epigenetic Changes

December 30, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Recent research at the University of Missouri School of Medicine sheds some light on the epigenetic changes to proteins that occur as a result of . Their results could help progress treatments for liver diseases linked to alcohol consumption. The lead author of the study and Margaret Proctor Mulligan Professor at the MU School of Medicine, Shivendra Shukla, PhD, says that “we know that chronic alcohol use is damaging to the liver, but binge drinking amplifies that damage.” Chronic liver [more…]

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