This 2018 US government rodent study used extreme dosages to achieve its directed goals of demonizing nicotine and extolling the biomarker paradigm:
“This study examined whether adolescent nicotine exposure alters adult hippocampus-dependent learning, involving persistent changes in hippocampal DNA methylation and if choline, a dietary methyl donor, would reverse and mitigate these alterations.
Mice were chronically treated with nicotine (12.6mg/kg/day) starting at post-natal day 23 (pre-adolescent), p38 (late adolescent), or p54 (adult) for 12 days followed by a 30-day period during which they consumed either standard chow or chow supplemented with choline (9g/kg).
Our gene expression analyses support this model and point to two particular genes involved in chromatin remodeling, Smarca2 and Bahcc1. Both Smarca2 and Bahcc1 showed a similar inverse correlation pattern between promoter methylation and gene expression.
Our findings support a role for epigenetic modification of hippocampal chromatin remodeling genes in long-term learning deficits induced by adolescent nicotine and their amelioration by dietary choline supplementation.”
Let’s use the average weight of a US adult male – published by the US Centers for Disease Control as 88.8 kg – to compare the study’s dosages with human equivalents:
The human-equivalent dosage of nicotine used in this study would probably kill an adult human. Who knows what exceeding the choline “Tolerable Upper Intake Level” BY 228 TIMES would do to an adult human.
Is the main purpose of animal studies to help humans? Or is it to promote an agenda?
A funding source of this study was National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Identification of Biomarkers for Nicotine Addiction award (T-DA-1002 MG). Has the biomarker paradigm been institutionalized to the point where research proposals that don’t have biomarkers as goals aren’t funded?
This 2018 German review was comprehensive for its subject, epigenetic control of variation and stochasticity in metabolic disease. I’ll focus on one aspect, phenotypic variation:
“Phenotypic [Mendelian] variation can result both from gain- and loss-of-function mutations. Because of the extreme interconnectivity of cell regulatory networks, even at the cellular level, predicting the impact of a sequence variant is difficult as the resultant variation acts:
In the context of all other variants and
Their potential additive, synergistic and antagonistic interactions.
This phenomenon is known as epistasis.
∼98.5% of our genome is non-protein-coding: it is pervasively transcribed, and its transcripts can support regulatory function. Among the best functionally characterized non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) arising from these sequences are microRNAs (miRNAs)
Environmental [non-Mendelian] variation or ‘stimuli’ occurring during critical windows of susceptibility can elicit lifelong alterations in an individual’s phenotype. Intergenerational metabolic reprogramming [in fruit flies] results from global alterations in chromatin state integrity, particularly from reduced H3K27me3 and H3K9me3 [histone] domains.
The broad variation of fingerprints in humans is thought to depend to a large degree on stochastic variation in mechanical forces. These clear examples of inducible multi-stable or stochastic variation highlight how little we know about the landscape of potential phenotypic variation itself.
Consensus estimates of heritability for obesity and T2D are ∼70% and ∼35% respectively. The remaining, unexplained component is known to involve gene–environment interactions as well as non-Mendelian players.”
Although the above graphic displays transgenerational inheritance for humans, the reviewers didn’t cite any human studies that adequately demonstrated causes for and effects of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance.
I’ve read the cited Swedish and Dutch studies. Their designs, methods, and “correlate with” / “was associated with” results didn’t provide incontrovertible evidence from the F0 great-grandparents, F1 grandparents, F2 parents, and F3 children. It’s necessary to thoroughly study each generation to confirm definitive transgenerational epigenetic inheritance causes and effects.
I downgraded the review for treating research of this and other subjects as faits accomplis. It’s opposite ends of the evidential spectrum to state “how little we know about the landscape of potential phenotypic variation,” and in the same review, speciously extrapolate animal experiments into putative human results.
The study’s non-statistical data was almost all self-reported by a self-selected sample of the F2 grandchildren, average age 37.
No detailed physical measurements or samples were taken of them, or of their F1 parents, or of their F0 grandparents, all of which are required as baselines for any transgenerational epigenetic inheritance.
No detailed physical measurements or samples were taken of their F3 children, which is the generation that may provide evidence for transgenerational findings if the previous generations also have detailed physical baselines.
The study’s researchers drew enough participants (360) such that their statistics package allowed them to impute and assume into existence a LOT of data. But the scientific method constrained them to make factual statements of what the evidence actually showed. They admitted:
“In conclusion, we did not find a transgenerational effect of prenatal famine exposure on the health of grandchildren in this study.”
Yet this study is somehow cited for evidence of human transgenerational epigenetically inherited causes and effects.
This 2018 Loma Linda review subject was gestational hypoxia:
“Of all the stresses to which the fetus and newborn infant are subjected, perhaps the most important and clinically relevant is that of hypoxia. This review explores the impact of gestational hypoxia on maternal health and fetal development, and epigenetic mechanisms of developmental plasticity with emphasis on the uteroplacental circulation, heart development, cerebral circulation, pulmonary development, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and adipose tissue.
An understanding of the specific hypoxia-induced environmental and epigenetic adaptations linked to specific organ systems will enhance the development of target-specific inhibition of DNA methylation, histone modifications, and noncoding RNAs that underlie hypoxia-induced phenotypicprogramming of disease vulnerability later in life.
A potential stumbling block to these efforts, however, relates to timing of the intervention. The greatest potential effect would be accomplished at the critical period in development for which the genomic plasticity is at its peak, thus ameliorating the influence of hypoxia or other stressors.
With future developments, it may even become possible to intervene before conception, before the genetic determinants of the risk of developing programmed disease are established.”
Table 3 “Antenatal hypoxia and developmental plasticity” column titles were Species | Offspring Phenotypes of Disorders and Diseases | Reference Nos.
This review was really an ebook, with 94 pages and 1,172 citations in the pdf file. As I did with Faith-tainted epigenetics, I read it with caution toward recognizing the influence of the sponsor’s biases, and any directed narrative that ignored evidence contradicting the narrative, and any storytelling.
One review topic that was misconstrued was transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of hypoxic effects. The “transgenerational” term was used inappropriately by several of the citations, and no cited study provided evidence for gestational hypoxic effects through the F2 grandchild and F3 great-grandchild generations.
“One substance that fetuses are frequently exposed to is caffeine, which is a non-selective adenosine receptor antagonist. We discovered that in utero alteration in adenosine action leads to adverse effects on embryonic and adult murine hearts. We find that cardiac A1ARs [a type of adenosine receptor] protect the embryo from in utero hypoxic stress, a condition that causes an increase in adenosine levels.
After birth in mice, we observed that in utero caffeine exposure leads to abnormal cardiac function and morphology in adults, including an impaired response to β-adrenergic stimulation. Recently, we observed that in utero caffeine exposure induces transgenerational effects on cardiac morphology, function, and gene expression.”
Why was this review and its studies omitted? It was on target for both gestational hypoxia and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of hypoxic effects!
It was alright to review smoking, cocaine, methamphetamine, etc., but the most prevalent drug addiction – caffeine – couldn’t be a review topic?
The Loma Linda review covered a lot, but I had a quick trigger due to the sponsor’s bias. I started to lose “faith” in the reviewers after reading the citation for the review’s last sentence that didn’t support the statement.
My “faith” disappeared after not understanding why a few topics were misconstrued and omitted. Why do researchers and sponsors ignore, misrepresent, and not continue experiments through the F3 generation to produce evidence for and against transgenerational epigenetic inheritance? Where was the will to follow evidence trails regardless of socially acceptable beverage norms?
The review acquired the taint of storytelling with the reviewers’ assertion:
“..timing of the intervention. The greatest potential effect would be accomplished at the critical period in development for which the genomic plasticity is at its peak, thus ameliorating the influence of hypoxia or other stressors.”
Contradictory evidence was in the omitted caffeine study’s graphic above which described two gestational critical periods where an “intervention” had opposite effects, all of which were harmful to the current fetus’ development and/or to following generations. Widening the PubMed link’s search parameters to “caffeine hypoxia” and “caffeine pregnancy” returned links to human early life studies that used caffeine in interventions, ignoring possible adverse effects on future generations.
This is my final curation of any paper sponsored by this institution.
This 2018 UK review subject was colored-hearing experiencesfrom music:
“Music-colour synaesthesia has a broad scope encompassing not only tone-colour synaesthesia elicited on hearing individual tones, but a complex and idiosyncratic mixture of phenomenological experiences often mediated by timbre, tempo, emotion and differing musical style.
The possession of synaesthesia or absolute pitch was shown to have very little effect on the actual colours chosen for each of the musical excerpts, but it might be reasonable to expect that music that elicits a strong emotional response may be more likely to induce synaesthesia than music that does not.
The examination of eight neuroimaging studies were found to be largely inconclusive in respect of confirming the perceptual nature of music-colour synaesthesia. Neither the hyperconnectivity nor the disinhibited feedback theory currently holds as a single categorical explanation for synaesthesia.
Theories promoting the notion of ‘ideaesthesia’ have highlighted the importance of the role of concept and meaning in the understanding of synaesthesia..and a replacement definition: Synaesthesia is a phenomenon in which a mental activation of a certain concept or idea is associated consistently with a certain perception-like experience.”
“In contrast to a critical period, where a function cannot be acquired outside the specific developmental window, a sensitive period denotes a time where sensory experience has a relatively greater influence on behavioral and cortical development. Sensitive periods may also be times when exposure to specific stimuli stimulates plasticity, enhancing changes at the neuronal and behavioral levels.
The developmental window for absolute pitch may be more similar to a critical than a sensitive period.
The auditory cortex appears to have an unusually long period of developmental plasticity compared with other sensory systems; changes in its cellular organization and connectivity continue into late childhood.
The effects of musical training have been shown to impact auditory processing in the brainstem as well.”
Let’s say that a researcher wanted – as one cited study did – to examine absolute pitch, a rare trait, present in a subset of synesthetes – music-color, another rare trait. The study as designed would probably be underpowered due to an insufficient number of subjects, and it would subsequently find “very little effect.”
Let’s say another researcher focused on brain areas in the cerebrum, and like the eight cited studies, ignored the nuclei in the pons part of the brainstem which are the first brain recipients of sound and equilibrium information from the inner ear via the eighth cranial nerve. Like those studies, the researcher was also biased against including limbic brain areas that would indicate “a strong emotional response.” A study design that combined leaving out important brain-area participants in the synesthesia process with a few number of synesthetes would be unlikely to find conclusive evidence.
The reviewer viewed the lack of evidence from “eight neuroimaging studies” as indicating something about the “perceptual nature of music-colour synaesthesia.” An alternative view is that the “inconclusive” evidence had more to do with study designs that:
Had a small number of subjects;
Omitted brain areas relevant to the music-color synesthesia process;
Didn’t investigate likely music-color synesthesia development periods; and
Didn’t investigate associations of music-color synesthesia with epigenetic states.
“Despite the fundamental differences between visual, auditory and somatosensory signals, the basic layouts of the thalamocortical systems for each modality are quite similar.
For a given stimulus, the output neural response will not be static, but will depend on recent stimulus and response history.
Sensory signals en route to the cortex undergo profound signal transformations in the thalamus. A key thalamic transformation is sensory adaptation in which neural output adjusts to the statistics and dynamics of past stimuli.”
One of this study’s researchers described ways that an individual’s “stimulus and response history” became unconscious memories with the thalamus. Including the thalamus in synesthesia studies may also have findings that involve reliving or re-experiencing a memory, possibly an emotional memory.
In such future research, it could be a design element to ask synesthetes before and after the experiment to identify feelings and memories accompanying synesthesia experiences.
“Pain responses can be shaped by learning that takes place outside conscious awareness.
Our results support the notion that nonconscious stimuli have a pervasive effect on human brain function and behavior and may affect learning of complex cognitive processes such as psychologically mediated analgesic and hyperalgesic responses.”
Does an orangy twilight of aging sunflowers help you feel?
This 2018 Alabama rodent study investigated the epigenetic effects on developing breast cancer of timing a sulforaphane-based broccoli sprouts diet. Timing of the diet was as follows:
Conception through weaning (postnatal day 28), named the Prenatal/maternal BSp (broccoli sprouts) treatment (what the mothers ate starting when they were adults at 12 weeks until their pups were weaned; the pups were never on a broccoli sprouts diet);
Postnatal day 28 through the termination of the experiment, named the Postnatal early-life BSp treatment (what the offspring ate starting at 4 weeks; the mothers were never on a broccoli sprouts diet); and
Postnatal day 56 through the termination of the experiment, named the Postnatal adult BSp treatment (what the offspring ate starting when they were adults at 8 weeks; the mothers were never on a broccoli sprouts diet).
“The experiment was terminated when the mean tumor diameter in the control mice exceeded 1.0 cm.
Our study indicates a prenatal/maternal BSp dietary treatment exhibited maximal preventive effects in inhibiting breast cancer development compared to postnatal early-life and adult BSp treatments in two transgenic mouse models that can develop breast cancer.
Postnatal early-life BSp treatment starting prior to puberty onset showed protective effects in prevention of breast cancer but was not as effective as the prenatal/maternal BSp treatment. However, adulthood-administered BSp diet did not reduce mammary tumorigenesis.
The prenatal/maternal BSp diet may:
Primarily influence histone modification processes rather than DNA methylation processes that may contribute to its early breast cancer prevention effects;
Exert its transplacental breast cancer chemoprevention effects through enhanced histone acetylation activator markers due to reduced HDAC1 expression and enzymatic activity.
This may be also due to the importance of a dietary intervention window that occurs during a critical oncogenic transition period, which is in early life for these two tested transgenic mouse models. Determination of a critical oncogenic transition period could be complicated in humans, which may partially explain the controversial findings of the adult BSp treatment on breast cancer development in the tested mouse models as compared the previous studies. Thus long-term consumption of BSp diet is recommended to prevent cancers in humans.”
“The dietary concentration for BSp used in the mouse studies was 26% BSp in formulated diet, which is equivalent to 266 g (~4 cups) BSp/per day for human consumption. Therefore, the concentration of BSp in this diet is physiological available and represents a practical consumption level in the human diet.
Prior to the experiment, we tested the potential influences of this prenatal/maternal BSp regimen on maternal and offspring health as well as mammary gland development in the offspring. Our results showed there was no negative effect of this dietary regimen on the above mentioned factors (data not shown) suggesting this diet is safe to use during pregnancy.”
I downgraded the study’s rating because I didn’t see where the sulforaphane active content of the diet was defined. It’s one thing to state:
“SFN as the most abundant and bioactive compound in the BSp diet has been identified as a potent HDAC inhibitor that preferably influences histone acetylation processes.”
and describe how sulforaphane may do this and may do that, and include it in the study’s title.
It’s another thing to quantify an animal study into findings that can help humans. Normal people aren’t going to eat “4 cups BSp/per day” but we may take one capsule of a sulforaphane dietary supplement when the price is $.20 a day.
The study’s food manufacturer offers dietary products to the public without quantifying all of the active contents like sulforaphane. Good for them if they can stay in business by serving customers who can’t be bothered with scientific evidence.
These researchers shouldn’t have conducted a study using the same lack of details as the food manufacturer provided, though. They should have either tasked the manufacturer to specify the sulforaphane active content, or contracted the analysis.
Regarding timing of a sulforaphane-based broccoli sprouts diet for humans, the study also didn’t provide evidence for recommending:
“Thus long-term consumption of BSp diet is recommended to prevent cancers in humans.”
This 2018 Belgian review hijacked science to further an agenda:
“We addressed this issue at the LATSIS Symposium ‘Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance: Impact for Biology and Society’, in Zürich, 28–30 August 2017, and here provide important arguments why environmental and lifestyle-related exposures in young men should be studied.”
Putting that study’s graphic into human terms, F3 male great-grandchildren may be adversely affected by their F0 great-grandmothers being poisoned while pregnant with their F1 grandfathers, who – with their F2 fathers – may have also been adversely affected.
What the reviewer asserted without proof:
“The importance of maternal lifestyle, diet and other environmental exposures before and during gestation period is well recognized.”
is NOT TRUE for the studied area.
The evidence disproving this assertion is that NO HUMAN STUDIES scientifically demonstrating causes for transgenerational epigenetic inheritance effects have been published!
There’s a huge gap between “The importance..is well recognized” of anything regarding transgenerational epigenetic inheritance and ZERO human studies.
Why has no one published scientifically adequate human evidence to demonstrate “Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance: Impact for Biology and Society” effects on ALL of the F1, F2, and F3 human generations as consequences “of maternal lifestyle, diet and other environmental exposures before and during gestation period?” What are we waiting for?
The reviewer said “young men should be studied” but said nothing about resolving bottlenecks in funding human research of the studied area. Do researchers even have opportunities to make a NON-AGENDA-DRIVEN difference in this field?
With ZERO published human studies, transgenerational epigenetic inheritance research can’t be recharacterized into a female vs. male agenda. The reviewer’s attempt to do so diminished the importance of research into human critical development periods.
“The defect in maternal care induced by gestational stress programs the development of the offspring.”
Will the reviewer’s suggested interventions – such as changing an adult’s lifestyle a long time after their development was altered – somehow make up for what went wrong early in their life, even before they were born?
“How can animal studies like the current study help humans when their models don’t replicate common human conditions? This failure to use more relevant models has follow-on effects such as human intergenerational and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance being denigrated due to insufficient evidence.”
“The review focused on 0.0001% of the prenatal period for what matters with the human male – who he was at the time of a Saturday night drunken copulation – regarding intergenerational and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of metabolic diseases.
The human female’s role – who she was at conception AND THEN what she does or doesn’t do during the remaining 99.9999% of the prenatal period to accommodate the fetus and prevent further adverse epigenetic effects from being intergenerationally and transgenerationally transmitted – wasn’t discussed.