TITLE

FOCUS ON: EPIGENETICS AND FETAL ALCOHOL SPECTRUM DISORDERS

AUTHOR(S)
Kobor, Michael S.; Weinberg, Joanne
PUB. DATE
March 2011
SOURCE
Alcohol Research & Health;2011, Vol. 34 Issue 1, p29
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Epigenetic changes-stable but potentially reversible alterations in a cell's genetic information that result in changes in gene expression but do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence-may mediate some of the detrimental effects of prenatal alcohol exposure and contribute to the deficits and abnormalities associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. These epigenetic processes are linked to the chromatin (i.e., DNA, histone proteins, and other associated proteins) and commonly involve chemical modifications (e.g., methylation) of these molecules, which may result in altered expression of the affected genes. Even alcohol exposure prior to conception appears to be able to induce epigenetic changes in the parental genetic material that can be passed on to the offspring and affect offspring outcome. Similarly, epigenetic processes may occur as a result of maternal alcohol consumption during the period between fertilization of the egg and implantation in the uterus. The period most sensitive to alcohol's adverse effects appears to be gastrulation, which corresponds to prenatal weeks 3 to 8 in the human and prenatal days 7 to 14 in the mouse, when cells are differentiating to form organs. One way in which alcohol exposure may induce epigenetic changes, particularly abnormal DNA methylation, is by affecting a set of biochemical reactions called the methionine-homocysteine cycle.
ACCESSION #
64307452

 

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