Thursday, August 27, 2015

Survivor's fear to be succeeded to offspring

We are living with being influenced by the environment surrounding us. Harsh experiences may make us irritable, and after continuous threatening we can be timid. Then, are these changes succeeded to our offspring?

Recently, researchers in New York published an interesting result about Holocaust survivors. They compared some genes in survivors themselves, their offspring, and controls who did not experience Holocaust directly. They found some common modification of genes were emerged in exposed parents as well in their offspring, which were suspected to cause vulnerability to stress. They concluded that trauma inflicted in their childhood could be inherited to their offspring genetically.

Biological Psychiatry:Holocaust exposure induced intergenerational effects on FKBP5 methylation

This study is surprising. Gene-environmental interaction is still developing an area of research, and it has been doubtful that parents' experiences affect their children through a genetic mechanism. If the present result is correct, the "nature vs. nurture" debate will approach the next stage. Since some preceding studies using an animal model support this result, this hypothesis seems feasible.

The Guardian: Study of Holocaust survivors finds trauma passed on to children's genes

Indeed, we are inherently cautious, or indifferent, to some types of dangers. Human babies do not fear to the fire, different from other species. If it is a result of evolution, the contrary is also possible.

Unfortunately, the present study has an only small sample size. Considering the difficulty of recruiting the proper participants, gathering 32 Jewish survivors is amazing. Nonetheless, the broader investigation is needed to prove the exact effect of specific events experienced by the parents on the genes of their offspring.

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