Prenatal Programming of Neuropsychiatric Disorders: An Epigenetic Perspective Across the Lifespan

  • Bruce S. McEwen
    Address correspondence to Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D., Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Ave, New York, NY 10065.
    Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York
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      This issue of Biological Psychiatry examines emerging aspects of prenatal influences on psychiatric disorders, including transgenerational influences that result from experiences affecting the parent’s physiology and that can begin even before conception. The reviews included in this special issue illustrate the important notion that each stage of life depends on what has come before in a unidirectional trajectory that can be redirected but never reversed (
      • Halfon N.
      • Larson K.
      • Lu M.
      • Tullis E.
      • Russ S.
      Lifecourse health development: Past, present and future.
      ). Moreover, it is now evident that the immune, metabolic, autonomic, and neuroendocrine systems not only are regulated by neural activity, but they also “talk to” and influence each other’s activity nonlinearly and “talk back” to the brain to influence its structure and function (
      • McEwen B.S.
      • Gray J.D.
      • Nasca C.
      60 years of neuroendocrinology: Redefining neuroendocrinology: Stress, sex and cognitive and emotional regulation.
      ). The brain is sensitive to stress, sex, and metabolic hormones, which, in turn, influence their structure and function (
      • McEwen B.S.
      • Gray J.D.
      • Nasca C.
      60 years of neuroendocrinology: Redefining neuroendocrinology: Stress, sex and cognitive and emotional regulation.
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