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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Maternal care modifies gene regulating key neurotransmitter

Physorg reports new research that emphasizes again the crucial epigenetic effects of maternal care of lack of it.

Researchers bred two different clades of rats, ones affective with their offspring and the others extremely detached. The offspring of the latter experimented an epigenetic modification obstructing the expression of the GAD1 gene, which regulates the key neurotransmitter GABA

GABA helps to regulate emotions and people with schizophrenia may have GABA deficits. Similarly the rats raised by the detached mothers also had low GABA production. 

Inversely, the rats raised by cuddly mothers showed high expression of GAD1. 

Rodents are genetically very close to primates and hence a very good model for our own biology even within the restricted spectrum of placental mammals. 

The research is attributed to Tie-Yuan Zhang to be published in September 29 in The Journal of Neuroscience.

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