Sick from Stress? Blame Mom and Epigenetics
If you're sick from stress, new research suggests that what your mother ateor didn't eatmay be part of the cause
New research suggests that choline supplements for pregnant women lowers cortisol in the baby by changing the epigenetic expression of genes involved in cortisol production. The report appears in the August 2012 issue of the FASEB journal
The report shows that choline intake that is
higher than what is generally recommended
during pregnancy may improve
how a child responds to stress.
These improvements are the result ofepigenetic changes that ultimately lead to lower cortisol levels.
Epigenetic changes affect how a gene functions,
even if the gene itself is not changed.
Lowering cortisol is important as high levels
of cortisol are linked to a wide range of problems
ranging from mental health to metabolic
and cardiovascular disorders.
"We hope that our data will inform the development of choline intake recommendations for pregnant women that ensure optimal fetal development and reduce the risk of stress-related diseases throughout the life of the child," said Marie A. Caudill, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Division of Nutritional Sciences and Genomics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
To make this discovery, Caudill and colleagues conducted a 12-week study involving pregnant women in their third trimester who consumed either the control diet providing 480 mg choline per day, a level that approximates current dietary recommendations, or the treatment diet which provided 930 mg choline per day.
Maternal blood, cord blood and placenta tissue were collected to measure the blood levels of cortisol, the expression levels of genes that regulate cortisol, and the number of methyl groups attached to the DNA of the cortisol regulating genes (the epigenetic changes). Those from mothers who consumed the higher levels of choline showed reduced levels of cortisol.
USDA Database for the Choline Content
of Common Foods
"Depending on the relationship, one's mother can either produce stress or relieve it. This report shows that her effect on stress begins even before birth. The importance of choline cannot be overstated as we continue to unravel the role it plays in human health and development." says Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.
Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fjupdate.aspx. The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and is among the most cited biology journals worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information. In 2010, the journal was recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century. FASEB is composed of 26 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Celebrating 100 Years of Advancing the Life Sciences in 2012, FASEB is rededicating its efforts to advance health and well-being by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.
Xinyin Jiang, Jian Yan, Allyson A. West, Cydne A. Perry, Olga V. Malysheva, Srisatish Devapatla, Eva Pressman, Francoise Vermeylen, and Marie A. Caudill. Maternal choline intake alters the epigenetic state of fetal cortisol-regulating genes in humans. FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.12-207894; http://www.fasebj.org/content/26/8/3563.abstract