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Mothering style and methylation

Frequent licking and grooming by rat mothers increases the number of hippocampal glucocorticoid receptors in their pups, leading to tighter regulation of stress hormone levels. A study in this issue shows that this treatment alters DNA methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene and acetylation of histones early in life, providing a mechanism for these permanent changes in stress responses.

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Figure 1: A cascade by which a constellation of traits in the adult rat is induced by the mothering style to which the rat was exposed as a pup.


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Sapolsky, R. Mothering style and methylation. Nat Neurosci 7, 791–792 (2004).

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