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Last Posted: Sep 05, 2023
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Epigenetics of Early-Life Socioeconomic Stressors and the Impact on Childhood Body Mass Index—Potential Mechanism and Biomarker?
UP Gujral et al, JAMA Pediatrics, September 5, 2023

From the paper: "a recent study indicates that salivary epigenetics, an easy measure to obtain in field or clinic, can be used to further explore the questions of pediatric obesity and related outcomes. Epigenetic and physiological BMI may be present at birth and remain stable throughout childhood and adolescence. These findings also add further evidence to a critical window, that of early life, at which to intervene to prevent childhood and adolescent obesity."

Salivary Epigenetic Measures of Body Mass Index and Social Determinants of Health Across Childhood and Adolescence
L Raffington et al, JAMA Pediatrics, September 5, 2023

From the abstract: "Can the long arm of childhood on aging-related health be measured in real time? In this study that analyzed data from 2 US cohort studies, epigenetic measures of body mass index developed in adults were valid biomarkers of children’s body mass index and were associated with socioeconomic and racialized inequalities experienced in childhood, especially at birth. These findings are in line with the hypothesis that early-life conditions are especially important factors in epigenetic regulation of later-life health."

Early-Life Adversity Associations With Later Life Epigenetic Aging Profiles in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.
Lauren L Schmitz et al. Am J Epidemiol 2023 8

This study leveraged data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) on experiences of threat and deprivation in participants’ early lives (i.e., before the age of 18) to examine whether exposure to specific dimensions of early life adversity are associated with epigenetic profiles at older ages that are indicative of accelerated biological aging. The sample included 842 respondents in MESA with DNA methylation data collected between 2010-2012 who answered questions on early life adversities in a 2018-2019 phone follow-up. We find experiences of deprivation, but not threat, are associated with later-life GrimAge epigenetic aging signatures that were developed to predict mortality risk.

Predictive evidence of the relevance of epigenetics to PTSD.
Leon Mutesa et al. Nat Rev Genet 2023 8

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex mental health condition that can occur after a life-threatening or otherwise traumatic event. Although its molecular causes are unclear, its development is thought to involve a range of biological, psychological and environmental factors. In 2009, Yehuda and Bierer posited that epigenetic modifications, such as DNA methylation, may occur in response to environmental influences such as trauma exposure, thus altering the functional expression of genes. These mechanisms may explain the intergenerational transmission of PTSD across affected families.

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