Traumatic Experiences Can Alter Genome

Share this content:

the Psychiatry Advisor take:

Evidence is mounting that traumatic experiences can have such a profound impact on people, they may even influence genetic expression.

Tania L. Roth, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware, provides an interesting review on how epigenetic mechanisms can have a long-term effect on the brain and behavior. Such mechanisms belong to a class of molecular mechanisms by which environmental influences, including stress, can interact with the human genome.

Alterations to the genome can play in role in mental disorders, especially post-traumatic stress disorder, given that the condition requires exposure to a traumatic effect, and genes are sensitive to stress and trauma, Roth wrote in Frontiers in Psychiatry.

For example, she explored several studies discussing DNA methyation, a biochemical process by which the genome’s expression can be altered, and how that process is tied to PTSD. Examining DNA methylation can not only be a useful biological market for diagnosing PTSD, but also a predictor of treatment outcomes.

"Together, data presented in these […] articles are consistent with the notion that epigenetic programming early in life confers an enhanced risk on disease development upon re-exposure to trauma or stress,” Roth wrote.

Researchers Find Genetic Mutation That Can Cause Autism
Traumatic Experiences Can Alter Genome

Epigenetic mechanisms are a class of molecular mechanisms by which environmental influences, including stress, can interact with the genome to have long-term consequences for brain plasticity and behavior.

As PTSD, by definition, requires exposure to a traumatic event, and because genes are exquisitely sensitive to stress and trauma, epigenetic alterations have received attention as possible contributors to the development and persistence of PTSD symptoms.

READ FULL ARTICLE From Frontiersin
You must be a registered member of Psychiatry Advisor to post a comment.