The various mechanisms that may explain the association between brain dysfunction and the pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome (MS) leading to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes have been reviewed. A Medline search was conducted until September 2003, and articles published in various national and international journals were reviewed. Experts working in the field were also consulted.
What the World needs is an integrated and sustainable food policy that makes the best and most appropriate use of the technologies at our disposal to promote health and help prevent disease. Diet induced diseases account for the largest burden of chronic illnesses and health problems Worldwide. Historically a lack of knowledge about human nutritional requirements (including for the brain) helped promote diet induced disease. The scientific knowledge currently exists to help prevent many of the current deficiencies and imbalances in human diet.
The Journal of Neuroscience: The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
It is becoming increasingly clear that epigenetic modifications are critical factors in the regulation of gene expression. With regard to the nervous system, epigenetic alterations play a role in a diverse set of processes and have been implicated in a variety of disorders. Gaining a more complete understanding of the essential components and underlying mechanisms involved in epigenetic regulation could lead to novel treatments for a number of neurological and psychiatric conditions.
Chronic neuropsychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disease and autism are thought to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors that might result in epigenetic alterations of gene expression and other molecular pathology. Traditionally, however, expression studies in postmortem brain were confined to quantification of mRNA or protein. The limitations encountered in postmortem brain research such as variabilities in autolysis time and tissue integrities are also likely to impact any studies of higher order chromatin structures.
The orchestrated expression of genes is essential for the development and survival of every organism. In addition to the role of transcription factors, the availability of genes for transcription is controlled by a series of proteins that regulate epigenetic chromatin remodeling. The two most studied epigenetic phenomena are DNA methylation and histone-tail modifications.
Central nervous system (CNS) development, homeostasis, stress responses, and plasticity are all mediated by epigenetic mechanisms that modulate gene expression and promote selective deployment of functional gene networks in response to complex profiles of interoceptive and environmental signals. Thus, not surprisingly, disruptions of these epigenetic processes are implicated in the pathogenesis of a spectrum of neurological and psychiatric diseases.
It has been widely speculated that epigenetic changes may play a role in the etiology of psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Epigenetics is the study of mitotically heritable, but reversible, changes in gene expression that occur without a change in the genomic DNA sequence, brought about principally through alterations in DNA methylation and chromatin structure. Although numerous studies have examined psychosis-associated gene expression changes in postmortem brain samples, epigenetic studies of psychosis are in their infancy.
There are numerous examples of sex differences in brain and behavior and in susceptibility to a broad range of brain diseases. For example, gene expression is sexually dimorphic during brain development, adult life, and aging. These differences are orchestrated by the interplay between genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. However, the molecular mechanisms that underpin these differences have not been fully elucidated.
Regulatory RNA is emerging as the major architect of cognitive evolution and innovation in the mammalian brain. While the protein machinery has remained largely constant throughout animal evolution, the non protein-coding transcriptome has expanded considerably to provide essential and widespread cellular regulation, partly through directing generic protein function. Both long (long non-coding RNA) and small non-coding RNAs (for example, microRNA) have been demonstrated to be essential for brain development and higher cognitive abilities, and to be involved in psychiatric disease.
Neurobehavioral and psychiatric disorders are complex diseases with a strong heritable component; however, to date, genome-wide association studies failed to identify the genetic loci involved in the etiology of these brain disorders. Recently, transgenerational epigenetic inheritance has emerged as an important factor playing a pivotal role in the inheritance of brain disorders.