Environmental alterations of epigenetics prior to the birth

Chiao Ling Lo, Feng Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

The etiology of many brain diseases remains allusive to date after intensive investigation of genomic background and symptomatology from the day of birth. Emerging evidences indicate that a third factor, epigenetics prior to the birth, can exert profound influence on the development and functioning of the brain and over many neurodevelopmental syndromes. This chapter reviews how aversive environmental exposure to parents might predispose or increase vulnerability of offspring to neurodevelopmental deficit through alteration of epigenetics. These epigenetic altering environmental factors will be discussed in the category of addictive agents, nutrition or diet, prescriptive medicine, environmental pollutant, and stress. Epigenetic alterations induced by these aversive environmental factors cover all aspects of epigenetics including DNA methylation, histone modification, noncoding RNA, and chromatin modification. Next, the mechanisms how these environmental inputs influence epigenetics will be discussed. Finally, how environmentally altered epigenetic marks affect neurodevelopment is exemplified by the alcohol-induced fetal alcohol syndrome. It is hoped that a thorough understanding of the nature of prenatal epigenetic inputs will enable researchers with a clear vision to better unravel neurodevelopmental deficit, late-onset neuropsychiatric diseases, or idiosyncratic mental disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-49
Number of pages49
JournalInternational Review of Neurobiology
Volume115
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Chromatin
  • DNA methylation
  • Environmental hazards
  • Epigenetic medicine
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Gene and environmental interaction
  • Histone modification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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