Stress and gene expression

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Stress and gene expression

Recent research in epigenetics demonstrates that everything that is part of our environment, including emotions, influences the opening or closing of millions of switches that are positioned on our DNA. Emotions, in particular, are at the heart of this interaction. It is known that during the development of the fetus, from its conception to its coming to the world, the emotional imprint will influence the development of its personality and its adult identity. It has been discovered that after fertilization a second reprogramming of the epigenetic fingerprint takes place, just before the process of cell differentiation begins (at the level of embryonic stem cells). This second reprogramming allows the adaptation of the gene expression of the fetus to its environment.

Epigenetics opens new perspectives, in terms of treatment, because some of these epigenetic fingerprints are reversible. If the young of an unaffected spleen is entrusted to the care of an adoptive mother, who licks it very much, it ends up experiencing a normal development. It is now accepted that the imbalances that lead to the disease could be reversible, although sometimes their origin goes back to before birth. This phenomenon is known as “neuronal plasticity,” a mechanism by which the brain is able to modify itself under the effect of experience. Some connections, little used, tend to disappear, while others, more solicited, are strengthened. Neural circuits are activated or deactivated as required.

The neurologist Hunter Hoffman (Seattle Hospital) had the idea of ​​having a movie played in a world of ice burned while being watched. After completing the treatment, he asks a severely burned patient to evaluate his pain on a scale of 0 to 100. The patient points to 38, while with the only analgesics the estimated level would have been between 90 and 100.

A recent study shows that the prenatal environment can alter our epigenome. Researchers analyzed the blood of teenage mothers born to a smoking mother who had continued to smoke during pregnancy. Significantly, adolescents whose mothers smoked during pregnancy had epigenetic marks in their blood cells at the level of a gene involved in brain development, the BDNF gene. These results suggest that prenatal exposure to cigarettes could have an impact on brain development through epigenetic mechanisms.  By JLife Sciences

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