Epigenetics of schizophrenia : a review

Prenatal exposure to DES may affect epigenetics factors and influence the development of psychiatric disorders

2014 Study Abstract

Schizophrenia is a frequent and disabling disease associated with heterogeneous psychiatric phenotypes.

Epigenetics of schizophrenia: A review, Research Gate, publication/264830796, August 2014.

Image credit Dennis Brekke.

It emerges during childhood, adolescence or young adulthood and has dramatic consequences for the affected individuals, causing considerable familial and social burden, as well as increasing health expenses.

Although some progress has been made in the understanding of their physiopathology, many questions remain unsolved, and the disease is still poorly understood.

The prevailing hypothesis regarding psychotic disorders proposes that a combination of genetic and/or environmental factors, during critical periods of brain development increases the risk for these illnesses.

Epigenetic regulations, such as DNA methylation, can mediate gene x environment interactions at the level of the genome and may provide a potential substrate to explain the variability in symptom severity and family heritability.

Initially, epigenetics was used to design mitotic and meiotic changes in gene transcription that could not be attributed to genetic mutations. It referred later to changes in the epigenome not transmitted through the germline. Thus, epigenetics refers to a wide range of molecular mechanisms including DNA methylation of cytosine residues in CpG dinucleotides and post-translational histone modifications.

These mechanisms alter the way the transcriptional factors bind the DNA, modulating its expression.

Prenatal and postnatal environmental factors may affect these epigenetics factors, having responsability in long-term DNA transcription, and influencing the development of psychiatric disorders.

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