Epigenetic influence of social experiences across the lifespan. Developmental Psychobiology, 52, 299-311

Department of Psychology, Columbia University, Room 406, Schermerhorn Hall, 1190 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA.
Developmental Psychobiology (Impact Factor: 3.31). 05/2010; 52(4):299-311. DOI: 10.1002/dev.20436
Source: PubMed


The critical role of social interactions in driving phenotypic variation has long been inferred from the association between early social deprivation and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes. Recent evidence has implicated molecular pathways involved in the regulation of gene expression as one possible route through which these long-term outcomes are achieved. These epigenetic effects, though not exclusive to social experiences, may be a mechanism through which the quality of the social environment becomes embedded at a biological level. Moreover, there is increasing evidence for the transgenerational impact of these early experiences mediated through changes in social and reproductive behavior exhibited in adulthood. In this review, recent studies which highlight the epigenetic effects of parent-offspring, peer and adult social interactions both with and across generations will be discussed and the implications of this research for understanding the developmental origins of individual differences in brain and behavior will be explored.

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    • "In several cases, genetic information only accounts for a small part of the observed phenotypic variation. Both physical and social environments play a critical role during development, finely regulating the expression of genes and producing a wide range of phenotypic differences (Nijhout 2003; Monaghan 2008; Branchi 2009; Champagne 2010). Highly organized societies composed of closely related individuals, such as colonies of eusocial insects, provide excellent examples for the existence of such mechanisms. "
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    • "DNA methylation , histone tail modifications, noncoding RNAs). Epigenetic modifications can mediate responses to environmental cues (Bastow et al. 2004; Petronis 2010; Feil & Fraga 2012), including behavioural (Champagne 2010, 2012; Mifsud et al. 2011) and circadian rhythm responses (DiTacchio et al. 2011; Fustin et al. 2013; Azzi et al. 2014). For example, DNA methylation is involved in transcriptional silencing, alternative splicing and activating intragenic promoters (reviewed in Jones 2012) and acts as a reversible mechanism to drive circadian clock behavioural plasticity in mice (Mus musculus; Azzi et al. 2014). "
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