Stressed Dads Produce Stress Prone Offsprings

A study published in a new preclinical study in the Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has disclosed a never-before-seen epigenetic link to stress-related diseases such as anxiety and depression passed from father to child. The findings suggest that stress felt by dad—whether as a preadolescent or adult—leaves a lasting impression on his sperm that gives sons and daughters a blunted reaction to stress, a response linked to several mental disorders.

While environmental challenges, like diet, drug abuse, and chronic stress, felt by mothers during pregnancy have been shown to affect offspring neurodevelopment and increase the risk for certain diseases, dad’s influence on his children are less well understood.

Now teams of researchers led by neuroscience professor Tracy L Bale have shown that stress on preadolescent and adult male mice induced an epigenetic mark, or change in gene expression, in their sperm that reprogrammed their offspring’s ‘hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal’ (HPA) axis, a region of the brain that governs responses to stress.

The researchers have concluded that the finding that mild stress experience across a lifespan can change in male germ cells provides an “important and novel mechanism contributing to neuropsychiatric disease risk”.

Related Label: Anxiety & Depression