Epigenetics is the at the core of what I practice with SOP, particularly when working with balancing brain chemistry through nutritional supplemenation.
What is epigenetics? Simplified it is a modification of the expression of DNA. No change in DNA, just in how the proteins are expressing themselves.
This page from Zymo Research simplifies the explanation of “what is epigenetics?”
Epigenetic mechanisms can be just as important to biological events as genetic mechanisms, and can also result in stable and heritable changes. However, the big difference between genetic and epigenetic regulation is that epigenetic mechanisms do not involve a change to the DNA sequence, whereas genetic mechanisms involve the primary DNA sequence and changes or mutations to this sequence. Epigenetic regulation involves the modification of DNA and the proteins associated with DNA, which results in changes to the conformation of DNA and accessibility of other factors to DNA, without a change to the sequence of the DNA.
The importance of nature versus nurture has long been disputed. It cannot be denied that environment greatly influences how a child grows and develops, nor can it be denied that our DNA is the blueprint that makes us who we are. Epigenetics merges these two seemingly contradictory lines of thought to explain how environmental factors cause physical modifications to DNA and its associated structures, which result in altered functions.
The most commonly known epigenetic modification is DNA methylation. Although many technologies have been developed in the past to characterize genomic DNA methylation, none of them has been able to efficiently determine DNA methylation patterns on a genomic scale. Until now.
The below is a quote from Dr. Kristi B. Adamo, PhD., Research Scientist and CIHR New Investigator, Director of HALO Research Laboratory at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute, 401 Smyth Rd. Ottawa ON K1H 8L1.
Nalin Siriwardhana, Ph.D., interviewed
Epigenetic regulation is a natural process that is required to ‘turn-on’ or ‘turn-off’ genes in certain systems or at specific points in time that contribute to typical development throughout life. However, different environmental conditions or disruptions can change the expected epigenetic patterns and thus lead to increased susceptibility to disease later on. In other words, epigenetic modifications can also be acquired over time, a simple example of which is gene-environment interaction. We know that identical twins have the same genetics but their epigenetic patterns in later life can be markedly different. This is because each twin may have been exposed to very different environments which have impacted their epigenetics markings and thus you can see differences when observing twins who grew up in different environments (this includes their lifestyles).