View Full Version : Severe psychological trauma can have intergenerational effects

24-08-15, 19:13
Holocaust exposure induced intergenerational effects on FKBP5 methylation:


"BackgroundThe involvement of epigenetic mechanisms in intergenerational transmission of stress effects has been demonstrated in animals but not in humans.

Cytosine methylation within the gene encoding for FK506-binding-protein-5 (FKBP5) was measured in Holocaust survivors (n=32), their adult offspring (n=22), and respective demographically comparable parent (n=8) - offspring (n=9) controls. Cytosine-phosphate-guanine (CpG) sites for analysis were chosen based on their spatial proximity to the intron 7 glucocorticoid-response-elements (GREs).

Holocaust exposure had an effect on FKBP5 methylation that was observed in exposed parents (F0) as well in their offspring (F1). These effects were observed at bin 3/site 6. Interestingly, in Holocaust survivors, methylation at this site was higher in comparison to controls, whereas in Holocaust offspring, methylation was lower. F0 and F1 methylation levels were significantly correlated. In contrast to the findings at bin 3/site 6, offspring methylation at bin 2/sites 3-5 associated with childhood physical and sexual abuse in interaction with an FKBP5 risk-allele, previously associated with vulnerability to psychological consequences of childhood adversity. The findings suggest the possibility of site-specificity to environmental influences, as sites in bins 3 and 2 were differentially associated with parental trauma and the offspring’s own childhood trauma, respectively. FKBP5 methylation averaged across the three bins examined, associated with wake-up cortisol levels, indicating functional relevance of the methylation measures.

This is the first demonstration of transmission of pre-conception parental trauma to child associated with epigenetic changes in both generations, providing a potential insight into how severe psychological trauma can have intergenerational effects."