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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Jun;16(6):332-44. doi: 10.1038/nrn3818. Epub 2015 Apr 29.

Epigenetic and transgenerational reprogramming of brain development.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine and Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Neurodevelopmental programming - the implementation of the genetic and epigenetic blueprints that guide and coordinate normal brain development - requires tight regulation of transcriptional processes. During prenatal and postnatal time periods, epigenetic processes fine-tune neurodevelopment towards an end product that determines how an organism interacts with and responds to exposures and experiences throughout life. Epigenetic processes also have the ability to reprogramme the epigenome in response to environmental challenges, such as maternal stress, making the organism more or less adaptive depending on the future challenges presented. Epigenetic marks generated within germ cells as a result of environmental influences throughout life can also shape future generations long before conception occurs.

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