Murgatroyd, C. et al. (2009)
Dynamic DNA Methylation Programs Persistent Adverse Effects of Early-life Stress
Nature Neuroscience 12(12), 1559-1563

  • Many studies in humans and animal models have shown that stress during early life can have long-term consequences.
  • The genes of any organism can be influenced by its environment through small chemical changes to its DNA. These are known as epigenetic changes.
  • This study has shown through experiments in mice that stress in early life can cause epigenetic changes to the genes for two stress hormones, and therefore to changes in the amount of these hormones that are secreted.
  • These changes persisted throughout a large part of the normal mouse lifespan.
  • Secretion of increased levels of these hormones has been linked to depression in adult humans, implying that similar mechanisms in humans may link early-life stress to depression in adulthood.