The feeling of fighting mental illness, we all have first-person experience, or experience comes from people close to us. Mental health problems are one of the largest causes of suicide in the world, and it can also lead to other complications, such as hormonal and sleep cycle imbalances, increased risk of stroke and heart disease, etc. Depression is the second leading cause of disability in the world. It is estimated that globally One in six people have experienced some type of mental health problems, and the stigma associated with these diseases is slowly dissipating, allowing people to work harder to study the origin of these diseases.
What is the relationship between epigenetics and mental health and mental illness?
We know that certain areas of the brain are related to certain cognitions and behaviors. The cell composition of these areas also controls specific functions. Studying the cell and functional configuration of brain areas makes it easier for people to understand normal brain functions and their systems.
In neuropsychiatric diseases, these systems and cell populations are affected, thereby preventing normal brain functioning. In this regard, the epigenome, that is, all the epigenetic changes in our DNA, play a pivotal role. It can ensure the recovery and correct self-maintenance of cell tissue, respond to environmental changes, and try to make the brain system Adapt to make it play its due role. If the epigenome responds incorrectly to environmental changes and cues, the brain tissue will be further damaged and cause disorder. In this way, the characteristics that exist in mental illness help us understand the state of the disease and find a healthy epigenome.
Epigenetic changes in gene expression play a key role in the development of mental illness research. Research on the role of epigenetics in the field of mental health has enabled people to gradually understand the underlying mechanism of this process that is harmful to mental health.
Only by considering Mendelian laws of inheritance (our genetic genes) cannot explain how certain people develop certain mental illnesses. This depends on our genetic data on many levels, and then epigenetic mechanisms regulate this Genetic data, the shape, size, interaction, distribution, etc. of our cells, all of which affect their function. These complex cognitive and behavioral processes are all personal and can ultimately be attributed to occur at the molecular level.
Understanding the distribution of cells in our brain and how the epigenome is organized is very important for understanding how it affects health and disease states. For example, the epigenetic landscape of neuronal cells and non-neuronal cells in different brain regions is different, and it will be different from the landscape of other cells in our body, which means that different functions require different genetic and epigenetic landscapes. Genetic composition.
In addition to the genetic development of our cells, early exposure to risk factors can also affect the way the epigenome is organized, which can lead to harmful effects and sometimes even mental illness. These risk factors include stress, adverse events, unhealthy eating habits, and developmental toxins such as lead. They affect the pathogenesis of certain mental disorders, but whether they directly induce the disease or increase the chance of suffering from the disease is still unknown.
Nevertheless, a healthy lifestyle tailored to the needs of the epigenome will help our cells resist negative changes and play a role in programming them into a healthy state. Being aware of our personal needs and cellular needs gives us the opportunity to adjust our lifestyles to obtain beneficial results.
Epigenetic variation causes cell diversity
A recent study conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University found that the epigenetic diversity of the four important brain regions associated with psychosis has a characteristic epigenetic organization. What does this mean?
Their data supports the link between neuropsychiatric characteristics and genetic signals. This link is fused by epigenetic tissue. They observed the appearance of 12 million base pairs (from 3 billion base pairs) in the genome. The increase in genetic diversity has exceeded expectations. Interestingly, these diverse situations have the most distinguishable characteristics in neurons in the brain region called nucleus accumbens, and play a central role in our "reward mechanism."
One of the authors of the study, Andrew Feinberg, said: “We do know that both epigenetics and genetic changes can cause cells to fail to do their jobs as expected.” Moreover, they also found that epigenetic changes are associated with addictive behaviors and mental health. Schizophrenia is related to genetic changes related to mood swings, and the epigenetic variations they observed are significantly different in various areas of the brain, and coexist in areas rich in genetic signals associated with mental illness.
This research has opened the way for further exploration of the links between genes, epigenetics, and psychiatry. Now, there may be more neuroepigenetics studies exploring brain regions with higher epigenetic diversity, and The difference between people with and without mental illness.
Epigenetics of schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a long-term mental illness that can cause changes in the patient’s ability to distinguish delusions from reality. In many cases, there are hallucinations and patients cannot be sure whether they are real experiences. Many evidences indicate that epigenetic mechanisms are involved in the onset of schizophrenia. Has a key role in the mechanism. One of the epigenetic mechanisms that has been studied is the reelin promoter, which is an important participant in the correct development of GABAergic neurons in the brain. The hypermethylation of the promotoer will add many methyl labels to it, thereby reducing its activity and destroying its role in the development process.
Other GABAergic genes, such as RELN and GAD67, also undergo other methylation changes. GABA is the main neurotransmitter in the brain, and it has an inhibitory effect on the neurons it projects to. Researchers believe that the epigenetic changes of these genes will change the expression of proteins, which affects the GABA cells produced by these genes. Quantity.
Epigenetics of depression
Depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide. This mental health disorder weakens and disrupts personal daily activities, and in many cases can lead to suicide. Current research is mainly focused on exploring animal models of the origin of the disease. These studies have suggested several auxiliary factors that lead to the pathology of the disease. One of these factors is epigenetic modification, which brings about changes in gene expression and effects on our genetic material. Accessibility, where stress plays a central role in triggering certain responses in our epigenome.
Epigenetics of addiction
Addictive behavior is regulated by reward mechanism pathways in the brain, these mechanisms can be dysregulated and replaced by addictive drugs. There is still a mystery as to how addictive behaviors continue for a long time after detoxification, leading to a higher chance of relapse. Some studies have pointed out that this is indeed due to epigenetic changes caused by drug use. Part of the reason is that changes in the maintenance of the epigenetic pattern can easily lead to dysfunction of the reward mechanism. One example is the impact of cocaine use on FosB. The methylation rate of FosB is increased within half an hour. The activation of FosB by cocaine will in turn change other molecules and genes, such as Cdk5, and affect the normal function of chromatin of genes related to addiction. All these scientific terms ultimately mean that, due to the modification of epigenetic components, drug use to induce addictive behaviors changes the epigenetic mechanism, thereby contributing to genes that reward related behaviors.
What these mental disorders have in common is that their occurrence cannot be attributed solely to genetics, but may be caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility, epigenetic changes, environmental changes, and risk factors. Understanding the role of epigenetics in diseases is the key to finding better treatments and solutions. Only by further exploring our epigenome can we find the answers needed for new treatment strategies and information.