The social environment and the epigenome

  title={The social environment and the epigenome},
  author={Moshe Szyf and Patrick O. McGowan and Michael J. Meaney},
  journal={Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis},
The genome is programmed by the epigenome. Two of the fundamental components of the epigenome are chromatin structure and covalent modification of the DNA molecule itself by methylation. DNA methylation patterns are sculpted during development and it has been a long held belief that they remain stable after birth in somatic tissues. Recent data suggest that DNA methylation is dynamic later in life in postmitotic cells such as neurons and thus potentially responsive to different environmental… 
The early life environment and the epigenome.
  • M. Szyf
  • Biology
    Biochimica et biophysica acta
  • 2009
Nutritional developmental epigenomics: immediate and long-lasting effects
Several encouraging trials suggest that prevention and therapy of age- and lifestyle-related diseases by individualised tailoring to optimal epigenetic diets or drugs are conceivable, however, these interventions will require intense efforts to unravel the complexity of these epigenetic, genetic and environment interactions and to evaluate their potential reversibility with minimal side effects.
The dynamic epigenome and its implications for behavioral interventions: a role for epigenetics to inform disorder prevention and health promotion
It is hypothesized that changes in DNA methylation as well as other epigenetic markers could generate stable phenotypes, and might provide an objective tool for assessing effects of early adverse experience on individual risks aswell as providing objective measures of progress of an intervention.
DNA methylation, the early-life social environment and behavioral disorders
  • M. Szyf
  • Psychology, Biology
    Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • 2011
It is proposed that modulation of DNA methylation in response to environmental cues early in life serves as a mechanism of life-long genome adaptation under certain contexts, which can turn maladaptive resulting in behavioral disorders.
Early life, the epigenome and human health
The paper by Schlinzig et al. (1) shows that global DNA methylation levels in cord white blood cells are higher in newborns delivered by Caesarean section (CS) than in those delivered by normal
DNA methylation: a mechanism for embedding early life experiences in the genome.
Examining the environmental circumstances associated with the onset and reversal of DNA methylation will be critical for understanding risk and resiliency.
Social Crowding during Development Causes Changes in GnRH1 DNA Methylation
Evidence is provided for social control of GnRH1 developmental responses to gestational cues through DNA methylation, a reversible modification made to cytosine nucleotides that is known to regulate gene function.
Sexual dimorphism in environmental epigenetic programming
From Social Structure to Gene Regulation, and Back: A Critical Introduction to Environmental Epigenetics for Sociology
This work begins with an introduction to the science of environmental epigenetics focused on articulating the logic of experimentation and explanation in this field and reviews the growing literature on epigenetics of socioeconomic status.


DNA methylation from embryo to adult.
  • A. Razin, T. Kafri
  • Biology
    Progress in nucleic acid research and molecular biology
  • 1994
Reversal of Maternal Programming of Stress Responses in Adult Offspring through Methyl Supplementation: Altering Epigenetic Marking Later in Life
It is reported that methionine infusion reverses the effect of maternal behavior on DNA methylation, nerve growth factor-inducible protein-A binding to the exon 17 promoter, GR expression, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and behavioral responses to stress, suggesting a causal relationship among epigenomic state, GRexpression, and stress responses in the adult offspring.
DNA demethylation and cancer: therapeutic implications.
Mechanistic aspects of genome-wide demethylation in the preimplantation mouse embryo.
  • T. Kafri, X. Gao, A. Razin
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1993
The results demonstrate that dem methylation is achieved by an active mechanism and that specific sites in imprinted genes escape demethylation, maintaining a methylated state throughout preimplantation development.
Demethylation of CpG islands in embryonic cells
Transfection experiments in vitro show that the dem methylation is rapid, is specific for embryonic cell-types and affects a variety of different CpG island sequences, which suggests that gene sequences can be recognized in the early embryo and imprinted with the correct methylation pattern through a combination of demethylation and de novo methylation.
Evidence That DNA (Cytosine-5) Methyltransferase Regulates Synaptic Plasticity in the Hippocampus*
DNA (cytosine-5) methylation represents one of the most widely used mechanisms of enduring cellular memory. Stable patterns of DNA methylation are established during development, resulting in
DNA demethylation.
Alterations in the methylation status of the entire genome, individual chromosomes, and specific genes are essential for normal development and can promote tumorigenesis and understand how these important transitions might be regulated.
Chromatin modifications by methylation and ubiquitination: implications in the regulation of gene expression.
The recent biochemical, molecular, cellular, and physiological functions of histone methylation and ubiquitination involved in the regulation of gene expression as determined by a combination of enzymological, structural, and genetic methodologies are highlighted.
Epigenetic programming by maternal behavior
It is shown that an epigenomic state of a gene can be established through behavioral programming, and it is potentially reversible, suggesting a causal relation among epigenomicState, GR expression and the maternal effect on stress responses in the offspring.