Indian Journal of Human Genetics
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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 384-391

Epigenetics in the nervous system: An overview of its essential role

Department of Biological Sciences, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, Rajasthan, India

Correspondence Address:
Manoj Kannan
Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty Division Three, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, Rajasthan - 333 031
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-6866.124357

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The role that epigenetic mechanisms play in phenomena such as cellular differentiation during embryonic development, X chromosome inactivation, and cancers is well-characterized. Epigenetic mechanisms have been implicated to be the mediators of several functions in the nervous system such as in neuronal-glial differentiation, adult neurogenesis, the modulation of neural behavior and neural plasticity, and also in higher brain functions like cognition and memory. Its particular role in explaining the importance of early life/social experiences on adult behavioral patterns has caught the attention of scientists and has spawned the exciting new field of behavioral epigenetics which may hold the key to explaining many complex behavioral paradigms. Epigenetic deregulation is known to be central in the etiology of several neuropsychiatric disorders which underscore the importance of understanding these mechanisms more thoroughly to elucidate novel and effective therapeutic approaches. In this review we present an overview of the findings which point to the essential role played by epigenetics in the vertebrate nervous system.

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