Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Childhood Trauma can be a major cause of alteration of your DNA

childhood trauma affects DNA mental distress and committing suicide childhood trauma affects DNA mental distress and committing suicide A group of scientists from McGill University and Douglas Institute has been burning their midnight oil with a medical research, studying how childhood trauma affects DNA. The study opened up a new horizon in the medical science. The research results in the fact that childhood trauma can play a major role in altering your DNA and in turn shapes exactly the way one’s genes works. Fund for the research was jointly offered by Canadian Institutes for Health Research and National Institute of Child Health and Development, USA. The samples of brain used in that research work were taken from Quebec Suicide Brain Bank, which is administered by Dr. Gustavo Turecki, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and also practices at Douglas Mental Health University Institute. This Brain Bank was actually developed with an intention to prevent people from suffering mental distress and committing suicide.

A total sample of 36 brains was used in the research – 12 of abused suicide victims, 12 of non-abused suicide victims and 12 controls. During the research process, various epigenetic marks in the brains of a number of abused victims were brought into close observation. These marks play an active role in influencing a stress response factor, which increases the suicidal tendency. The clinical or scientific term of this stress response factor is hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) function. The research also confirms that maternal care also plays a vital role in influencing the genes that are responsible for controlling the stress-response factor. Some of the world-renowned scientists have put forward their revolutionary work on epigenetics. This work uncovers how the parental care influenced the DNA in the brains of some Quebec male suicide victims, who were abused in childhood.

Said Dr.Turecki, “We know from clinical experience that a difficult childhood can have an impact on the course of a person’s life”. Further, Dr.Moshe Szyf, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics added, “now we are starting to understand the biological implications of such psychological abuse”. Dr. Michael Meaney, a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology and Neurosurgery and also at Douglas said in his reports, “the function of our DNA is not as fixed as previously believed. He also added, “the interaction between the environment and the DNA plays a crucial role in determining our resistance to stress thus the risk for suicide and epigenetic marks are the product of this interaction”. The all-McGill study report has been set to publish in the February 22’s issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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