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Early stress alters epigenome

Scientists have figured out how stress experienced early in life can cause long-lasting changes in physiology and behavior -- via epigenetics. Image: Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry, MunichSpecifically, early stress appears to induce epigenetic changes in a specific regulatory region of the genome, affecting the expression of a hormone important in controlling mood and cognition into adulthood, according to a study published online today (November 8) in Nature Neuroscience. This is the fi

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Scientists have figured out how stress experienced early in life can cause long-lasting changes in physiology and behavior -- via epigenetics.
Image: Max-Planck Institute of
Psychiatry, Munich
Specifically, early stress appears to induce epigenetic changes in a specific regulatory region of the genome, affecting the expression of a hormone important in controlling mood and cognition into adulthood, according to a study published online today (November 8) in Nature Neuroscience. This is the first study to depict a molecular mechanism by which "stress early in life can cause effects that remain later in life," said epigeneticist linkurl:Moshe Szyf;http://www.medicine.mcgill.ca/pharma/mszyflab/ of McGill University in Montreal. "This can explain a lot of things that happen to us as humans and our behavior later in life." Stress endured early in life can influence the quality of physical and mental health in adulthood, such as by causing hormonal alterations associated with mood and cognitive disorders....
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