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Stress & Epige­ne­tics: Epige­ne­tic effects of paren­tal stress in offspring

Dr. Amber Makowicz – Hector Fellow Axel Meyer

Im Zentrum des Projekts steht der Einfluss von umgebungs­be­ding­tem Stress auf epige­ne­ti­sche Verän­de­run­gen der Genex­pres­sion. Am Modell von Fischen wird der Einfluss von Stress bei Eltern auf langfris­tige maladap­tive Verhal­tens­än­de­run­gen in den Folge­ge­nera­tio­nen erforscht.

In diesem Projekt forschen die Hector Fellows Thomas Elbert und Axel Meyer zusam­men mit der Postdok­to­ran­din Dr. Amber Makowicz (Univer­si­tät Konstanz).

Chronic stress has been related to major mental disor­ders through changes in the HPA axis (an important stress response found in all verte­bra­tes) and is most notable through changes in DNA methyla­tion. The most common mental disor­ders that occur from chronic stress are depres­sion and anxiety, although other psycho­pa­tho­lo­gi­cal disor­ders may also occur. Mothers are thought to be the primary influ­en­cer of offspring develo­p­ment, especially in regards to neuro­de­ve­lo­p­ment. Evidence is mounting that suggests that some of these epige­ne­tic effects may even be trans­mit­ted trans­ge­nera­tio­nally and would thus be directly affec­ting evolution.

Poeci­liids as a Model System

Poeci­liids are great models to test the effects of stress: they are small, livebea­ring fish that have short genera­tion times. There is no paren­tal care in any of the species, which provi­des a perfect control for the poten­tial influ­ence of paren­tal behavi­ors on the offsprings’ behavi­ors. Most import­antly, however, is that some species are matro­tro­phic featuring a placenta-like struc­ture and are able to trans­fer additio­nal nutri­ents to offspring during pregnancy, while others are lecito­tro­phic and show no additio­nal mater­nal trans­fer beyond the yoking of the egg.

The goal: To test the effects of stress on long-lasting maladap­tive behavio­ral changes in offspring of stres­sed parents and deter­mine how long these changes might be trans­mit­ted to subse­quent genera­ti­ons. This research will allow us to better under­stand how environ­men­tal stres­sors influ­ence gene expres­sion and behavi­ors of offspring.

Stress & Epigenetics: How Fishes Contribute to the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Poeci­liids as an appro­priate model system

Dr. Amber Makowicz

Postdok­to­ran­din
   

Stress & Epigenetik

Wie Fische zur Behand­lung posttrau­ma­ti­scher Belas­tungs­stö­run­gen beitragen

Ein inter­dis­zi­pli­nä­res Forschungs­pro­jekt von Prof. Dr. Axel Meyer & Prof. Dr. Thomas Elbert
   

Betreut durch

Prof. Dr.

Axel Meyer

Biolo­gie

Hector Fellow seit 2011Disziplinen Axel Meyer

Prof. Dr.

Thomas Elbert

Psycho­lo­gie

Hector Fellow seit 2009