The scientists examine several risk groups. One consists of 10-year-olds born at the University Hospital Jena whose mothers had treatment with glucocorticoids during pregnancy. Two other groups are being followed up by psychologists at the University of Leuven in Belgium and include two-year-olds and 25-year-olds whose mothers suffered from stress during pregnancy. „A unique group studied at the Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam includes persons born in Holland during the Dutch „Hunger Winter“, of 1944/45,” reported Prof. Schwab.Scientists involved in the project use state-of-the art neuropsychological, neurophysiological, and MRI methods to analyse and compare biological and real age of the brain. The biotechnology companies Life Length in Madrid and Biocrates in Innsbruck measure biological age in chromosomes and screen blood samples to determine metabolic blood markers of age. “Environmental factors such as exposure to stress hormones or malnutrition during pregnancy change the readout of genetic information permanently,” reported Matthias Platzer, Head of Genome Analysis at the Leibniz Institute for Age Research in Jena. „These epigenetic processes significantly change stress sensitivity for the rest of life,“ explained Prof Schwab. „Increased stress sensitivity makes one vulnerable to age-related diseases such as stroke and depression,“ he added.
Dr. Uta von der Gönna | idw
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