The rate of recovery from injury depends on epigenetic factors

Why do some people recover rapidly from stress factors, while others cannot recover from trauma for years? Previously, genetic predisposition to severe PTSD has been proven. However, scientists at the Queensland University of Technology have found that the ability to recover instantly from trauma depends not only on genetic factors but also on epigenetic factors. 

NR3C1 and FKBP5 genes were in the focus of experts' attention - a number of studies have proved their role in the processes of trauma response and recovery. During the experiment, the scientists took DNA samples from 48 students. Then the participants were subjected to various stresses and observed the rate of recovery. It was found that the ability to better cope with PTSD depended not only on the original structure of NR3C1 and FKBP5 genes but also on the methylation processes in these DNA sites. 

Methylation - adherence to the hereditary spiral sections of methyl groups - is the main epigenetic lever that allows to turn on and off the work of certain genes. By joining certain areas of NR3C1 and FKBP5 genes, methyl groups influenced human resistance to traumatic effects and recovery rate after it. 

The authors of the work emphasize that this is the first study that has helped to identify the relationship between PTSD and epigenetic mechanisms. The experts plan to continue studying a wide range of reactions to trauma and to identify individual biological properties of different people in order to uncover the complex process of recovery from traumatic experiences. 

June 1, 2020, 2:16 p.m.

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