Thanks to growing interest from the general public, environmental epigenetics is a red-hot topic with no signs of cooling off anytime soon. We’ve certainly covered our fair share of research with an environmental slant to it, so if you want to review, research, or just plain get up to speed on the subject, these articles we’ve assembled over the last few years will get you started.
Epigenetics of the Fetal Environment:
- Probing Placental Epigenetics: Recent evidence suggests that in addition to its role in supplying oxygen and nutrients to the growing fetus, the placenta also influences fetal development through epigenetic mechanisms.
- DNA Methylation Links Low Maternal Folate with Neural Tube Defects: Not getting enough folate from mom puts fetuses at risk for neural tube defects such as spina bifida
- Mom, Methylation, and Obesity: An interesting obesity studying involving DNA methylation has provided new evidence suggesting that obese moms give birth to kids who have a propensity to become even more obese.
Epigenetics and Stress:
- Stressed Out Moms Methylate: Raising babies is a stressful thing for mothers and the effect on her kids is manifest in brain and body weight, behavioral development, and even epigenetically.
- Posttraumatic Stress Risk Altered by DNA Methylation: While many people are exposed to traumatic events, only a fraction will develop PTSD. So why does it plague some and not others? DNA methylation may something to do with it.
- Stressing Out Over Methylation: Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry have demonstrated that an early-life stress (ELS) can change the methylation patterns in the brain.
- Feel the Burn: Epigenetic Changes After Exercise Improve Stress Response: Scientists took a close look at how well exercised lab rats performed better in stressful environments than their lazier counterparts. They then went on to show that epigenetic mechanisms in the brain are playing a role.
Epigenetics and Diet:
- Take a Bite Out of Cancer with the Epigenetics Diet: See how some of these superfoods in Mother Nature’s anti-cancer arsenal shake up epigenetics machinery.
- You Are What Your Father Ate, Too: Researchers found that male mice fed a low-protein diet transmitted altered epigenetic characteristics to their offspring.
- Famine, Conception, and Methylation: Prenatal famine has been linked to various consequences later on in life, but we hear far less about the consequences of these events on generations to come.
- Chromatin’s Flex in Restricted Calorie Diets: This review highlights the ways chromatin can flex its regulatory muscle during in calorie-restricted diets.
- Taming miR-33 Keeps Cholesterol Levels in Line: Two independent research teams say that blocking miR-33 expression could give our good cholesterol a real boost.
Epigenetics in Aging:
- Turning Back the Clock: Epigenetics, iPSCs and Aging: Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is a rare genetic disorder where the victims speed through aging. Point mutation in the lamin A gene leads to production of progerin, whose accumulation causes various defects, including loss of heterochromatin.
- Fun, Sun and Methylation: Age and sun exposure can change your skin’s DNA methylation patterns, so think twice about overdoing it.
- The Aging Methylome and Cancer: A report explains how promoters of certain Polycomb group protein target genes (PCGTs) become increasingly hypermethylated as we age; leaving us more at risk for cancer.
- Prolonged Exposure to Life Alters Your DNA Methylation: A collaboration of researchers have found that drinking, smoking, and just plain getting older alters your DNA methylation which could increase your risk of developing diseases.
- Forgetting Things? Better Acetylate Your H4K12: Researchers now think they’ve pin-pointed why your memory isn’t what it used to be, and it has to do with H4K12 acetylation – or the lack of it.
- Huh? miR-96 Tied to Hearing Loss: It turns out that progressive hearing loss is often inherited and, as was discovered, can be traced back to a single point mutation in miR-96.
Epigenetic Effects of Toxic Exposures:
- Nickel Exposure Takes Its Toll Via H3K4me3: It’s been known for a while that nickel-based compounds are linked to cancer, now this study aimed to uncover the mechanism that causes exposure to nickel compounds to be so harmful.
- That Stinks…Pollution Demethylating DNA: Researchers in Italy and Boston have found that when certain particulates from traffic exhaust increase, epigenetic effects can increase as well.
- Carcinogens’ Link to DNA Methylation in Cancer May Be a Smoke Screen: Although there’s tons of evidence linking smoking to aberrant DNA methylation and lung cancer, researchers still haven’t figured out what exactly kicks off that whole process.
- BPA Seeps Into Placental miRNA Expression: New studies show that BPA can alter miRNA expression patterns in the placenta, giveing us one more reason to think twice about drinking from those plastic water bottles sitting in your fridge.
- Formaldehyde Fumes Foil miRNA Expression: Researchers have uncovered changes in miRNA expression of lung cells exposed to formaldehyde, which could help explain the toxin’s nasty respiratory and carcinogenic effects.
Epigenetics and Addiction:
- Epigenetic SNPs Behind Not So Positive Feedback Loop in Alcoholism: Researchers give us even more reason avoid going on that next weekend bender—they found that heavy drinking can change your epigenetics and maybe even trigger alcoholism.
- Cocaine Keeps the LINEs Jumping: Research in PNAS details the downward spiral cocaine induces in heterochromatin in the reward center of our brains.
- Stem Cells Can’t Hold Their Liquor: Scientists determined that not only does alcohol change methylation patterns, but it blocks the necessary methylation programming changes that normally occur as NSCs differentiate.
- Mecp2, miR-212 Keep Cocaine Addiction In Check: Scientists uncovered a novel interaction between MeCP2 and miR-212 where each member regulates the other and fight it out for control of BDNF, known to play a role in psychostimulant reward.