The oligosaccharide stachyose

Two 2022 stachyose papers to follow on to Don’t take Beano if you’re stressed, which studied raffinose. Stachyose is in the raffinose oligosaccharide group with similar characteristics, and its content is usually larger in legumes. First is a rodent study: “Stress can activate the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis and elevate glucocorticoids in the body (cortisol in … Continue reading The oligosaccharide stachyose

Signaling pathways and disordered proteins

This 2022 review explored the title subject: “Cell signaling imposes many demands on proteins that comprise these pathways, including abilities to form active and inactive states, and to engage in multiple protein interactions. Signaling often requires amplifying signals, regulating or tuning responses to signals, combining information sourced from multiple pathways, all while ensuring process fidelity. … Continue reading Signaling pathways and disordered proteins

Offspring brain effects from maternal adversity

This 2021 rodent study investigated conception through weaning effects on offspring from stressing their mothers: “We investigated consequences of two prenatal insults, prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and food-related stress, on DNA methylation profiles of the rat brain during early development. We analyzed patterns in prefrontal cortex, a key brain region involved in cognition, executive function, … Continue reading Offspring brain effects from maternal adversity

The impact of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance and early life experiences

A 2021 interview with McGill University’s Moshe Szyf: “There is a rejection of transgenerational inheritance as it goes against progressive thinking because it ties us to previous generations. The theory faces rejection because it sounds deterministic. But if you understand what epigenetics is, it’s not deterministic. There is stability, and there’s also room for dynamic … Continue reading The impact of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance and early life experiences

Our first 1000 days

This 2021 review subject was a measurable aspect of our early lives: “The first 1000 days from conception are a sensitive period for human development programming. During this period, environmental exposures may result in long-lasting epigenetic imprints that contribute to future developmental trajectories. The present review reports on effects of adverse and protective environmental conditions … Continue reading Our first 1000 days

The epigenetics of perinatal stress

This 2019 McGill review discussed long-lasting effects of perinatal stress: “Epigenetic processes are involved in embedding the impact of early-life experience in the genome and mediating between social environments and later behavioral phenotypes. Since these phenotypes are apparent a long time after early experience, changes in gene expression programming must be stable. Although loss of … Continue reading The epigenetics of perinatal stress

Do genes or maternal environments shape fetal brains?

This 2019 Singapore human study used Diffusion Tensor Imaging on 5-to-17-day old infants to find: “Our findings showed evidence for region-specific effects of genotype and GxE on individual differences in human fetal development of the hippocampus and amygdala. Gene x Environment models outcompeted models containing genotype or environment only, to best explain the majority of … Continue reading Do genes or maternal environments shape fetal brains?

PNAS politics in the name of science

This 2019 Germany/Canada human fetal cell study was a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America direct submission: “In a human hippocampal progenitor cell line, we assessed the short- and long-term effects of GC [glucocorticoid] exposure during neurogenesis on messenger RNA expression and DNA methylation profiles. Our data suggest … Continue reading PNAS politics in the name of science

Infant DNA methylation and caregiving

This 2019 US human study attempted to replicate findings of animal studies that associated caregiver behavior with infant DNA methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene: “Greater levels of maternal responsiveness and appropriate touch were related to less DNA methylation of specific regions in NR3c1 exon 1F, but only for females. There was no association with … Continue reading Infant DNA methylation and caregiving

The Not-Invented-Here syndrome

I have high expectations of natural science researchers. I assume that their studies will improve over time, and develop methods and experiments that produce reliable evidence to inform us of human conditions. My confidence is often unrealistic. Scientists are people, after all, and have the same foibles as the rest of us. I anticipate that … Continue reading The Not-Invented-Here syndrome

How well do single-mother rodent studies inform us about human fathers?

Two items before getting to the review: 94% of rodent genera are naturally uniparental; The Rattus and Mus genera used in almost all rodent research aren’t part of the 6% in which fathers also provide offspring care. This 2018 Australian review subject was paternal intergenerational and transgenerational transmission of biological and behavioral phenotypes per this … Continue reading How well do single-mother rodent studies inform us about human fathers?

What will it take for childhood trauma research to change paradigms?

This 2018 German human study found: “DNA methylation in a biologically relevant region of NR3C1-1F [glucocorticoid receptor gene] moderates the specific direction of HPA-axis dysregulation (hypo- vs. hyperreactivity) in adults exposed to moderate-severe CT [childhood trauma]. In contrast, unexposed and mildly-moderately exposed individuals displayed moderately sized cortisol stress responses irrespective of NR3C1-1F DNA methylation. Contrary … Continue reading What will it take for childhood trauma research to change paradigms?

DNA methylation and childhood adversity

This 2017 Georgia human review covered: “Recent studies, primarily focused on the findings from human studies, to indicate the role of DNA methylation in the associations between childhood adversity and cardiometabolic disease in adulthood. In particular, we focused on DNA methylation modifications in genes regulating the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis as well as the immune system.” Recommendations … Continue reading DNA methylation and childhood adversity

Do you have your family’s detailed medical histories?

Imagine that you were a parent who puzzled over the mystery of your pre-teen daughter’s hyperactive behavior. Without detailed family medical histories, would anyone recognize this as a preprogammed phenotype? Could anyone trace the daughter’s behavior back to her maternal great-grandmother being treated with glucocorticoids near the end of the second trimester of carrying her … Continue reading Do you have your family’s detailed medical histories?

The hypothalamus couples with the brainstem to cause migraines

This 2016 German human study with one subject found: “The hypothalamus to be the primary generator of migraine attacks which, due to specific interactions with specific areas in the higher and lower brainstem, could alter the activity levels of the key regions of migraine pathophysiology.” The subject underwent daily fMRI scans, and procedures to evoke … Continue reading The hypothalamus couples with the brainstem to cause migraines