The second paper of Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance week was a 2017 German/Israeli review focused on:
“The inter- and transgenerational effects of stress experience prior to and during gestation..the concept of stress-induced (re-)programming in more detail by highlighting epigenetic mechanisms and particularly those affecting the development of monoaminergic transmitter systems, which constitute the brain’s reward system..we offer some perspectives on the development of protective and therapeutic interventions in cognitive and emotional disturbances resulting from preconception and prenatal stress.”
The reviewers noted that human studies have difficulties predicting adult responses to stress that are based on gene expression and early life experience. Clinical studies that experimentally manipulate the type, level and timing of the stressful exposure aren’t possible. Clinical studies are also predicated on the symptoms being recognized as disorders and/or diseases.
The researchers noted difficulties in human interventions and treatments. Before and during pregnancy, and perinatal periods are where stress effects are largest, but current human research hasn’t gathered sufficient findings to develop practical guidelines for early intervention programs.
I’m not persuaded by arguments that cite the difficulties of performing human research on transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. There are overwhelming numbers of people who have obvious stress symptoms: these didn’t develop in a vacuum.
- Design human studies to test what’s known from transgenerational epigenetic inheritance animal studies that will include documenting the subjects’ detailed histories with sufficient biometric samples and data obtained from their lineage.
- Induce the subjects to at least temporarily avoid what’s harmful for them and/or the offspring, in favor of what’s beneficial.
- Document the subjects’ actions with history and samples.
I acknowledge that economic incentives may not be enough to get people to participate. I’m familiar with a juvenile sickle-cell study that didn’t get enough subjects despite offering free transportation and hundreds of dollars per visit. The main problem seemed to be that the additional income would be reported and threaten the caregivers’ welfare benefits.
Stop whining that your jobs are difficult, researchers. Society doesn’t owe you a job. Earn it – get yourself and the people in your organization motivated to advance science.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014976341630731X “Experience-induced transgenerational (re-)programming of neuronal structure and functions: Impact of stress prior and during pregnancy” (not freely available)