Growing evidence supports the hypothesis that epigenetics is a key mechanism through which environmental exposures interact with an individual’s genetic constitution to determine risk for depression throughout life. Epigenetics, in its broadest meaning, refers to stable changes in gene expression that are mediated via altered chromatin structure without modification of DNA sequence. According to this hypothesis, severe stress triggers changes—in vulnerable individuals—in chromatin structure at particular genomic loci in the brain’s limbic regions, which drive sustained changes in gene expression that contribute to episodes of depression

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The summer is far from over, but already we can say that this has been an exceptional season for research on mental illness. Three recent discoveries are worth noting. Gulsuner and colleagues just published a report on genes disrupted by de novo mutations in schizophrenia.

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Daily cycles of gene expression exist in healthy human brains, but these patterns are disrupted in clinically depressed individuals, new research shows. Medscape Medical News

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