Do the events of our grandparents' lives affect our genes?

Grandparents with grandchildren / Photo: Pexels

After the discovery of the DNA molecule, scientists long believed that only the code in nucleic acid could influence the inheritance of genes. Today, it is known that the chemical elements associated with key parts of the genetic sequence not only affect the way genes are read, but that they can change under the influence of the environment and be passed on to the next generation, writes "National Geographic".

Although it is obvious what changes occur during these processes, their mechanisms are still unknown. The molecular biologist Susan Strom from the University of Santa Cruz says the results of the latest study published by her team indicate a cause-and-effect relationship between histone markers, which are transmitted through sperm, and gene expression, which develops in the offspring. Until recently, it was believed that most of these epigenetic modifications are "erased" after fertilization, in order to ensure the normal development of the child.

What is the impact on future generations?

An animal study suggests that certain epigenetic changes can escape "reprogramming" and then pass the information down to the next three generations.

The scientists came to this conclusion after removing the histone from sperm chromosomes and then using it to fertilize an egg that had fully marked chromosomes. Gene expression levels in the offspring were then analyzed, based on which it was determined that the chromosomes inherited from the father were not suppressed. This coincides with some previous studies that have shown that the way grandparents eat affects the health of their offspring.

However, human studies analyzing the direct relationship between parental health, epigenetic changes and the health status of the offspring are virtually non-existent.

This research is published in the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

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