DNA metylation in psychiatric disorders: mediation of gene by environment effects, from birth to adulthood
Psychiatric disorders are major contributors to human suffering and morbidity. Their prevalence is increasing, while their causes remain far from understood. A main reason for our limited understanding of these conditions is their complex aetiology where genetic, environmental, and epigenetic factors are contributing. In order to improve quality of life for the patients we need to better understand their biology, to improve their early diagnosis and treatment towards better outcome and prevention.
This project will explore novel aspects in genetic and environmental contributions by examining how the environment can modulate gene expression by adding tags on the DNA, so called DNA methylation (an epigenetic modification). We will focus on 3 major psychiatric conditions: schizophrenia (SCZ), bipolar disorder (BD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
We want to address how (DNA methylation can be implicated in these disorders and how these modifications can be modulated by the environment. This project will benefit from multidisciplinary expertise in statistical and functional genetics as well as clinical research. We will focus on identifying changes in DNA methylations in SCZ, BD and ADHD, and their changes across traits, in interaction with environmental factors.
This research capitalizes on the infrastructure and experience from the Norwegian center for mental health research (NORMENT), the K.G.Jebsen Centre of Neuropsychiatric Disorders, and the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). Better comprehension of methylation patterns may offer new insight into the biology of psychiatric disorders and potential for advances in their diagnosis, prevention and therapy.