In the latest Report on Progress, “Epigenetic Inheritance: Fact or Fiction?” Dana Alliance member Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., discusses the relatively new field of epigenetics, and how nature and nurture play a role with genetics.
Recently, there has been increased attention to the possibility of a very different contribution of epigenetics: namely, that environmentally-induced epigenetic changes, in addition to occurring within the brain, might also occur in germ cells—sperm or egg—which are then passed onto the offspring and modify their responses to those same environmental exposures. This reflects a distinct definition of the term epigenetics, one that would involve the heritable transmission of life’s experiences to offspring without a change in DNA sequence.
Dr. Nestler says that there are “a growing number of provocative demonstrations that behavioral exposures can be passed onto offspring.”
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