Anxiety, a heightened response to stress and other psychiatric problems can be passed by non-genetic means, new research finds.
For example, it is well known that Holocaust survivors pass on an increased vulnerability to stress to their children.
Professor Miklos Toth, a senior author of the study, said:
“Genetic and nongenetic inheritance are different but complementary mechanisms to pass information from one generation to the next.
It will be necessary to develop tools to determine if the familial occurrence of a disease is based on a nongenetic, as opposed to genetic, mechanism.
On a positive note, nongenetic, in contrast to genetic, inheritance of disease is not inevitable and, if recognized in time, may be prevented.”
The conclusions come from a study of mice, in which it is possible to separate out genetic influences from others.
Professor Toth said:
“Our study helps explain why individuals, even within the same family, can display various combinations of anxiety, depression, bipolar disease and schizophrenia symptoms.
We found that, at least in mice, each symptom can be passed on by a distinct mechanism.”
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
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