Sunday, October 30, 2011

Associations with early-life socio-economic position in adult DNA methylation

Related to Heijmans's paper we read for class, this study investigates ways in which poverty during childhood leads to certain epigenetic markers that might have an influence on adult health and risk for disease. These researchers studied the epigenome of 40 adult males who were involved in the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study, so characteristics of their childhoods and socioeconomic status are well documented among researchers. They used this data to see if there was any correlation between childhood socioeconomic status, and they found that indeed the adult's methylation pattern was more closely related to one's childhood socioeconomic status rather than one's adult socioeconomic status. Many of the regions where these associations occur in the epigenome are seen in "promoters of genes enriched in key cell signalling pathways," calling for more research to see how these altered methylation patterns affect one's adult phenotype and health results.

1 comment:

  1. I also saw this article, and I thought it was really interesting from a medical perspective (learning how the external circumstances influence one's health), but also for forensics. We are able to estimate the age of a person from a DNA sample by looking at the length of their telomeres, but imagine if we were able also distinguish their socioeconomic status and early living conditions from a DNA sample... creepy... Until now I always thought of DNA as a "blue print", but now it seems like both a blue print and a history.