Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nature Or Nurture? New Epigenetic Model Blurs Line In The Debate

Date:
July 22, 2009
Source:
Genetics Society of America
Summary:
A new report complicates the debate over whether nature or nurture plays the most important role in complex diseases such as psychiatric disorders, heart disease and cancer. Scientists explain how epigenetics (temporary changes in gene function) and gene mutations (permanent, heritable changes) contribute to disease risk within populations, and lays the foundation for public health interventions to reduce environmental epigenetic changes.

A research report published in the journal Genetics complicates the debate over whether nature or nurture plays the most important role in complex diseases such as psychiatric disorders, heart disease, and cancer. In the report, a scientist from the University of California, Berkeley explains how epigenetics (temporary changes in gene function) and gene mutations (permanent, heritable changes in gene structure) contribute to disease risk in a population at a given time and in subsequent generations.

This study provides an important theoretical foundation for future public health interventions designed to reduce a population's genetic risk of disease by limiting or eliminating epigenetic changes brought on by the environment.

"This paper calls attention to the potential importance of epigenetic factors that can influence the risk of complex diseases," said Montgomery Slatkin, the researcher who devised the study, and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley's Department of Integrative Biology, "and to the need to identify such factors and determine their rate of gain and loss."

The model described in the report represents a first step in quantifying the effect of epigenetic change on disease risk and recurrence risk. It found that while mutations have the largest effect on disease risk heritability, epigenetic factors play a surprisingly large role in the disease risk that gets passed down through the generations. Several other studies have already suggested that environmental factors, such as a pregnant woman's diet, might lead to epigenetic changes in her offspring, making it imperative for researchers and public health officials to understand exactly how these epigenetic factors and their causes influence disease risk.

"Almost every article on disease heritability describes 'genetics' as being an important factor in a person's likelihood to contract disease," said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Genetics. "Indeed that is true, but what is not often explained is that less permanent changes to our DNA also significantly influence our risk for disease. We tend to view disease risk as a tug of war between nature and nurture, but this study shows that nature and nurture are more closely related than we had imagined."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Genetics Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Montgomery Slatkin. Epigenetic Inheritance and the Missing Heritability Problem Genetics. Genetics, July 2009; 182: 845

Cite This Page:

Genetics Society of America. "Nature Or Nurture? New Epigenetic Model Blurs Line In The Debate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090721172413.htm>.
Genetics Society of America. (2009, July 22). Nature Or Nurture? New Epigenetic Model Blurs Line In The Debate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090721172413.htm
Genetics Society of America. "Nature Or Nurture? New Epigenetic Model Blurs Line In The Debate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090721172413.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Positive Ebola News: Outbreak 'Contained' In Nigeria

Some Positive Ebola News: Outbreak 'Contained' In Nigeria

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — The CDC says a new case of Ebola has not been reported in Nigeria for more than 21 days, leading to hopes the outbreak might be nearing its end. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Ebola Mission Head: Immediate Action Is Crucial

UN Ebola Mission Head: Immediate Action Is Crucial

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The newly appointed head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Anthony Banbury, outlines operations to tackle the virus. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Confirms First Case of Ebola in US

CDC Confirms First Case of Ebola in US

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The CDC has confirmed the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States. The patient is being treated at a Dallas hospital after traveling earlier this month from Liberia. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Breast Cancer Drug Extends Lives In Clinical Trial

New Breast Cancer Drug Extends Lives In Clinical Trial

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — In a clinical trial, breast cancer patients lived an average of 15 months longer when they received new drug Perjeta along with Herceptin. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins