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Horm Behav. 2011 Mar;59(3):315-20. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.05.005. Epub 2010 May 17.

Epigenetic marking of the BDNF gene by early-life adverse experiences.

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Department of Neurobiology and Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.


Studies over the past half-century have made it clear that environmental influences in development, particularly stress and traumatic experiences, can remain pervasive across the lifespan. Though it has been hypothesized for some time that the long-term consequences of early-life adversity represent epigenetic influences, it has not been until recently that studies have begun to provide empirical support of experience-driven epigenetic modifications to the genome. Here we focus on this theme, and review current knowledge pertaining to the epigenetics of behavioral development. At the center of our discussion is the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene, as abnormal BDNF gene activity is a leading etiological hypothesis by which early-life adverse experiences persistently modify brain and behavioral plasticity.

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