Epigenetic alterations following early postnatal stress: a review on novel aetiological mechanisms of common psychiatric disorders

Jawahar, Magdalene C., Murgatroyd, Chris, Harrison, Emma L., and Baune, Bernhard T. (2015) Epigenetic alterations following early postnatal stress: a review on novel aetiological mechanisms of common psychiatric disorders. Clinical Epigenetics, 7. pp. 1-13.

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Abstract

Stressor exposure during early life has the potential to increase an individual's susceptibility to a number of neuropsychiatric conditions such as mood and anxiety disorders and schizophrenia in adulthood. This occurs in part due to the dysfunctional stress axis that persists following early adversity impairing stress responsivity across life. The mechanisms underlying the prolonged nature of this vulnerability remain to be established. Alterations in the epigenetic signature of genes involved in stress responsivity may represent one of the neurobiological mechanisms. The overall aim of this review is to provide current evidence demonstrating changes in the epigenetic signature of candidate gene(s) in response to early environmental adversity. More specifically, this review analyses the epigenetic signatures of postnatal adversity such as childhood abuse or maltreatment and later-life psychopathology in human and animal models of early life stress. The results of this review shows that focus to date has been on genes involved in the regulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and its correlation to subsequent neurobiology, for example, the role of glucocorticoid receptor gene. However, epigenetic changes in other candidate genes such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and serotonin transporter are also implicated in early life stress (ELS) and susceptibility to adult psychiatric disorders. DNA methylation is the predominantly studied epigenetic mark followed by histone modifications specifically acetylation and methylation. Further, these epigenetic changes are cell/tissue-specific in regulating expression of genes, providing potential biomarkers for understanding the trajectory of early stress-induced susceptibility to adult psychiatric disorders.

Item ID: 41628
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: early life stress, maternal separation, epigenetics, DNA methylation, stress-responsive genes, histone acetylation, psychopathology
Additional Information:

© 2015 Jawahar et al. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

ISSN: 1868-7083
Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC).
Projects and Grants: NHMRC APP1003788
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 16:18
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110319 Psychiatry (incl Psychotherapy) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences @ 100%
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