Epigenetics of Lifestyle


by

Marcelina Párrizas, Rosa Gasa, Perla Kaliman

DOI: 10.2174/97816080529981120101
eISBN: 978-1-60805-299-8, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60805-534-0



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Indexed in: Book Citation Index, Science (BKCI-S), Web of Science, BIOSIS Previews, Scopus

Recent advances in the fields of genomics and bioinformatics have made it increasingly clear that genetic sequence alone cannot explai...[view complete introduction]

Table of Contents

Foreword

- Pp. i-ii (2)

Ezra Susser

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Preface

- Pp. iii

Marcelina Párrizas, Rosa Gasa and Perla Kaliman

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List of Contributors

- Pp. iv-vi (3)

Marcelina Párrizas, Rosa Gasa and Perla Kaliman

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Epigenetics of Lifestyle: The Plasticity of the Genetic Information

- Pp. 3-35 (33)

Marcelina Párrizas, Rosa Gasa and Perla Kaliman

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Epigenetics of Memory: Evidence and Models

- Pp. 36-69 (34)

Bechara J. Saab and Isabelle M. Mansuy

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Epigenetics of Stress

- Pp. 70-89 (20)

Andrew Collins, María Gutièrrez-Mecinas, Alexandra F. Trollope and Johannes M.H.M. Reul

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Epigenetic Mechanisms in Drug Addiction and its Clinical Management

- Pp. 90-138 (49)

Carla Sanchis-Segura and Marta Miquel

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Epigenetics of Nutrition

- Pp. 139-160 (22)

Karen A. Lillycrop and Graham C. Burdge

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Influences of Environmental Toxicants on the Human Epigenome

- Pp. 161-174 (14)

Jorge A. Alegría-Torres, Valentina Bollati and Andrea Baccarelli

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Foreword

This book is a timely contribution that will be valuable to a wide range of researchers interested in the relatively new field of epigenetics. One of the difficulties of beginning, as well as pursuing, research in this field derives from its relative novelty and fast moving pace. Because the technology, concepts, and empirical research cross diverse areas and change rapidly, few have the time and ability to sustain an overview of the field. These chapters are well written, as up to date as possible, and cover a broad and important area of epigenetics in a coherent way. I think they will be especially useful to those who are entering epigenetics from other fields, or are at the start of their careers. It also has much to offer, however, for researchers who are at the cutting edge in terms of a specific question about epigenetics, but want to be more familiar with developments in the wider field.

The book focuses on the potential for epigenetics to offer mechanisms that explain the relationships between lifestyle and noncommunicable disease. This field is at the cutting edge of scientific work in the present time. We cannot know yet whether epigenetic mechanisms will turn out to be central to explanation of causal relationships and preventive interventions. Few would doubt, however, that they will at least comprise an important component.

Although the book (wisely) does not attempt to be comprehensive, it covers an array of topics and is accessible to a broad audience. It includes a well chosen selection of substantive topics within this wide area designated by the title, such that the book is useful for anyone interested in lifestyle and epigenetics, without laboriously covering every particular topic in the field. In each of the chosen areas, the authors have substantial expertise. They also do an excellent job of balancing the need to provide an introductory context in addition to presenting the most recent findings. As a result, the book is engaging, informative and remarkably readable in its entirety.

It could be useful to understand the work presented here as part of a long-term evolution, which dates back many decades but has dramatically increased its pace in recent years. The works that laid the theoretical and empirical groundwork for epidemiologic studies in this field include: in the 1960s, the theories developed by Renee Dubos, in which early development was explicitly given a central role in health and disease over the life course; in the 1970s, the work of Anders Forsdal relating infant mortality to cardiovascular mortality in later life, and the landmark study of the Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944-45 led by Zena Stein (and her husband Mervyn Susser); and in the 1980s, the work of David Barker, who built on the work of these predecessors and was pivotal in articulating the importance of such investigations for metabolic and cardiovascular disease. These, of course, only represent a small selection of the key antecedents in this field.

It is also useful for readers to keep in mind that this selection of topics falls within a broader scope of work, all of which could not be included in a single volume. With respect to nutrition, for example, nutritional supplements of folic acid have been definitively related to prevention of neural tube defects, and are now being related to prevention of other neurodevelopmental disorders (in these cases, not yet proven). Although we do not know whether the mechanism for these effects is epigenetic, it is plausible, because folic acid supplements have been widely used in animal studies of epigenetics and these studies have clearly demonstrated important epigenetic effects. In addition, early prenatal exposure to famine has been linked to schizophrenia, first in a series of studies of the Dutch Hunger Winter, and later in two separate studies based on the Chinese famine of 1959-1961. Again, epigenetic effects provide one plausible explanation for this link, and are actively being investigated.

In sum, this book provides an excellent introduction to an emerging field. I think it will be of use to readers in many disciplines. There are few similarly coherent and readable accounts that are up to date.

Ezra Susser, M.D., Ph.D.
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University
New York
USA


Preface

Recent advances in the fields of genomics and bioinformatics are evidencing the fact that genetic sequence alone can not explain how the genome regulates the development and function of complex multicellular organisms both in health and disease. The crucial role of additional layers of information piled over that of the DNA sequence has taken centre stage in the last few years and thus, decades of intensive studies on genetics have led to the emergence of epigenetics. Epigenetics comprises a number of mechanisms, such as covalent histone modifications or DNA methylation, which induce long-lasting changes in gene expression that are not encoded in the DNA sequence itself.

Epigenetics then reflects the way in which the environment in the wide sense regulates gene expression. In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear that the well-known beneficial role of a healthy lifestyle over a number of pathologies or as a pre-emptive therapy is at least in part exerted through epigenetic mechanisms. Likewise, changes in chromatin structure may lie beneath some of the altered behavioral patterns usually associated with depression and addiction.

The current research on epigenetics is thus providing us with a fresh outlook to interpret genetic information. Fascinating new data suggest that we are a product of our genes but we can also influence them through our choices and experiences. When designing this book, our main intention has been to provide a comprehensive view of how lifestyle affects chromatin and, as a result, gene function and ultimately organismal fitness. The chapters of this book have been written by eminent scientists actively working in the fields they review. Following an introductory chapter in which the main concepts and background regarding epigenetics are discussed, there are chapters devoted to describe the epigenetic impact of nutrition, stress, addiction, exposure to chemicals and pollutants and how some of these epigenetic marks regulate brain functions such as learning and memory. In summary, our intention is to approach epigenetics from a fresh perspective and present the reader with the latest and most significant research in the field of epigenetics and lifestyle.

Marcelina Párrizas
Rosa Gasa
Perla Kaliman
Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS)
Barcelona
Spain

List of Contributors

Editor(s):
Marcelina Párrizas
Laboratory of Diabetes and Obesity
Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques
August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS) Barcelona
Spain


Rosa Gasa
Laboratory of Diabetes and Obesity
Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques
August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS) Barcelona
Spain


Perla Kaliman
Neuroepigenetics Laboratory
Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques
August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS) Barcelona
Spain




Contributor(s):
Bechara J. Saab
Brain Research Institute
University of Zürich and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Winterthurerstrasse 190
Zürich, CH-8057
Switzerland


Isabelle M. Mansuy
Brain Research Institute
University of Zürich and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Winterthurerstrasse 190
Zürich, CH-8057
Switzerland


Andrew Collins
Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology
Dorothy Hodgkin Building
University of Bristol
Whitson Street
Bristol
BS1 3NY
United Kingdom


María Gutièrrez-Mecinas
Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology
Dorothy Hodgkin Building
University of Bristol
Whitson Street
Bristol
BS1 3NY
United Kingdom


Alexandra F. Trollope
Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology
Dorothy Hodgkin Building
University of Bristol
Whitson Street
Bristol
BS1 3NY
UK


Johannes M.H.M. Reul
Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology
Dorothy Hodgkin Building
University of Bristol
Whitson Street
Bristol
BS1 3NY
United Kingdom


Carla Sanchis-Segura
Psychobiology section
Universitat Jaume I
Avda. Sos Baynat S/N
Castelló de la Plana, 12071
Spain


Marta Miquel
Psychobiology section
Universitat Jaume I
Avda. Sos Baynat S/N
Castelló de la Plana, 12071
Spain


Karen A. Lillycrop
Institute of Developmental Sciences
Mailpoint 887, Southampton General Hospital
Tremona Road
Southampton, So16 6YD
UK


Graham C. Burdge
2Human Development and Health
Faculty of Medicine
University of Southampton
Southampton
UK


Jorge A. Alegría-Torres
Departamento de Toxicologia Ambiental
Facultad de Medicina
Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi
Mexico


Valentina Bollati
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health
Center of Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology
Università degli Studi di Milano and Fondazione IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico
Mangiagalli e Regina Elena
Via San Barnaba 8
Milan, 20122
Italy


Andrea Baccarelli
Department of Environmental Health
Exposure, Epidemiology and Risk Program
Harvard School of Public Health
Boston
Massachusetts
USA




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