Epigenetic modifications regulate chromatin folding and function. Epigenetic mechanisms regulate
transcription mediating effects of various stimuli on gene expression. These mechanisms are involved in transcriptional
control in various physiological and pathological conditions including neuropsychiatric disorders and
behavioral abnormalities such as depression. In rodents, exposure to chronic social stress was shown to induce
behavioral impairments and memory/learning deficits that resemble depressive-like phenotype in humans. The
rodent models of chronic stress were widely used to study molecular mechanisms of depression. In these models,
early exposure to chronic stress such as prenatal or postnatal stress induces long-term hyperactive stress responses,
behavioral abnormalities, and functional impairments in brain function that persist in adulthood. Furthermore,
these alterations can be transmitted to offspring of chronically stressed animals across several generations.
Molecular studies in animal models showed that chronic stress induces stable epigenetic changes in specific
brain regions, primarily in the limbic system. These changes lead to long-lasting abnormalities in behavior that
persist in adulthood and can be transmitted to offspring. Treatment with epigenetically active antidepressants
disrupts the abnormal stress-induced epigenetic programming and provides epigenetic patterns that resemble
epigenetic background of stress resilient individuals.
Keywords: Animal model, depression, early life adversity, epigenetics, histone, methylation, chronic social stress.
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport