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In this podcast, Dr. Isabelle Mansuy details her important research on how trauma passes down through generations. She discusses:

  • The fundamental nature of epigenetics in cellular production.
  • Why exposure to distress at an early life stage effects the biggest epigenetic impact.
  • To what degree these epigenetic changes and behaviors will be transmitted down generational lines.

Dr. Isabelle Mansuy runs the Laboratory of Neuroepigenetics at the University of Zurich. Her lab studies the extent to which trauma is carried across generations with mice populations. They have found that stress-induced trauma on mice at an early life stage causes profound effects on their germ cells. This early time in particular leaves these germ cells with less protection than later stages. Furthermore, these changes to the epigenetics of the germ cells continues to impact the mice through several generations.

As a result of her work, the lab has manufactured a model that maps these effects and follows epigenetic inheritance, collecting data on which neurological changes remain and for how many generations. 

Dr. Mansuy describes how epigenetic inheritance affects almost every bodily process, from endocrine production to bone formation. In other words, the trauma-induced epigenetic changes have a pervasive effect. Her lab is attempting to research the mysteries involved in this process, such as the means through which the signals are passed from the nervous system to the germ cell.

Finally, she points out that epigenetic inheritance studies have been slowed down by the concept that DNA sequencing would hold all the answers. These new findings show that epigenetics holds far more importance than was thought and changes our view of heredity.

For more, see her lab website:

Additionally, her papers are located on Pubmed:

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