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How adversity gets under the skin

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Rat models implicate epigenetic regulation of hippocampal glucocorticoid receptor expression in mediating the effects of early life experience on adult behavior. A report now suggests that the same mechanism might also be at work in humans.

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Figure 1: High licking and grooming of rat pups increases serotonin tone in the brain.

Kim Caesar

Figure 2: The HPA axis is under the excitatory control of the amygdala and inhibitory control of the hippocampus.

Kim Caesar

Change history

  • 16 March 2009

    In the version of this article initially published, the first sentence of the first full paragraph on p. 243 should read: “Turning to the potential epigenetic mechanisms underlying these changes in glucocorticoid receptor expression, McGowan et al.1 found that there are higher levels of exon 1F methylation in suicide victims with a history of being abused than in nonabused suicide victims or controls.” The error has been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.


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Hyman, S. How adversity gets under the skin. Nat Neurosci 12, 241–243 (2009).

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