Start Date

8-5-2020 12:00 AM

Document Type

Poster Session

Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

Daniel Moore, PhD

Abstract

Ninety percent of clients treated in public behavioral health care clinics have experienced trauma. Trauma can lead to behavioral and mental health issues including anxiety, depression, emotional outbursts, risk seeking behavior, insomnia, and substance abuse. A common mental illness expressed as a result of trauma is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Alterations of gene expression and DNA methylation through epigenetic mechanisms have been shown to result from PTSD. Further genetic studies suggest that epigenetic changes in individuals with PTSD can be passed on to their offspring. Studies of offspring of PTSD parentage from traumatized populations, including Holocaust survivors and survivors of the Tutsi genocide, show epigenetic markers, such as methylation of the NR3C1 gene, similar to their mothers. Additionally, mouse model studies of offspring of PTSD parentage show similar behavioral phenotypes as their parents, such as depression, anxiety, inability to cope, and social withdrawal, four generations later. There is nuance to the idea of trauma inheritance. Epigenetic expression can also occur through environmental mechanisms; offspring of PTSD parentage may experience their own traumatic event in their lifetime, expressing phenotypes characteristic of PTSD. More research is needed to elucidate the differences of gene expression as it relates to nature vs. nurture processes. However, there is strong evidence to suggest genetic transference of PTSD phenotypes between parent and offspring is plausible.

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May 8th, 12:00 AM

Transgenerational Inheritance of Trauma Through Epigenetic Mechanisms

Ninety percent of clients treated in public behavioral health care clinics have experienced trauma. Trauma can lead to behavioral and mental health issues including anxiety, depression, emotional outbursts, risk seeking behavior, insomnia, and substance abuse. A common mental illness expressed as a result of trauma is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Alterations of gene expression and DNA methylation through epigenetic mechanisms have been shown to result from PTSD. Further genetic studies suggest that epigenetic changes in individuals with PTSD can be passed on to their offspring. Studies of offspring of PTSD parentage from traumatized populations, including Holocaust survivors and survivors of the Tutsi genocide, show epigenetic markers, such as methylation of the NR3C1 gene, similar to their mothers. Additionally, mouse model studies of offspring of PTSD parentage show similar behavioral phenotypes as their parents, such as depression, anxiety, inability to cope, and social withdrawal, four generations later. There is nuance to the idea of trauma inheritance. Epigenetic expression can also occur through environmental mechanisms; offspring of PTSD parentage may experience their own traumatic event in their lifetime, expressing phenotypes characteristic of PTSD. More research is needed to elucidate the differences of gene expression as it relates to nature vs. nurture processes. However, there is strong evidence to suggest genetic transference of PTSD phenotypes between parent and offspring is plausible.

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