Epigenetics and Biomarkers in the Staging of Neuropsychiatric Disorders
Epigenetics, or alterations in the phenotype or gene expression due to mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence, reflects the sensitivity and responsiveness of human and animal brains in constantly varying circumstances regulating gene expression profiles that define the biomarkers and present the ultimate phenotypical outcomes, such as cognition and emotion. Epigenetics is associated with functionally relevant alterations to the genome in such a fashion that under the particular conditions of early, adolescent, and adult life, environmental signals may activate intracellular pathways that remodel the "epigenome," triggering changes in gene expression and neural function. Thus, genetic influences in neuropsychiatric disorders that are subject to clinical staging, epigenetics in schizophrenia, epigenetic considerations in the expression of sensorimotor gating resulting from disease conditions, biomarkers of drug use and addiction, current notions on the role of dopamine in schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and the discrete interactions of biomarkers in persistent memory were to greater or lesser extents reflected upon. The relative contributions of endophenotypes and epistasis for mediating epigenetic phenomena and the outcomes as observed in the analysis of biomarkers appear to offer a multitude of interactive combinations to further complicate the labyrinthine machinations of diagnosis, intervention, and prognosis.