The good news from this mouse study is that if epigenetic stress is recognized, it can be reversed. That means, presumably, that it won’t be passed on:
In a study published March 15 in Nature Neuroscience, researchers found that early-life stress in mice induces epigenetic changes in a particular type of neuron, which in turn make the animals more prone to stress later in life. Using a drug that inhibits an enzyme that adds epigenetic marks to histones, they also show that the latent effects of early-life stress can be reversed.
“It is a wonderful paper because it is really advancing our ability to understand how events that happen early in life leave enduring signatures in the brain so that they influence what we do as adults,” says Tallie Z. Baram, a child neurologist and developmental neurobiologist at the University of California, Irvine, who wasn’t involved with the study.Asher Jones, “Early-Life Stress Exerts Long-Lasting Effects Via Epigenome” at The Scientist
All the more reason to blow clear of Darwinian determinism about genetics.
The paper is open access.
See also: Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!