Maternal Factors that Induce Epigenetic Changes Contribute to Neurological Disorders in Offspring

Avijit Banik 1, Deepika Kandilya 1, Seshadri Ramya 1, Walter Stünkel 2, Yap Seng Chong 3 and S. Thameem Dheen


It is well established that the regulation of epigenetic factors, including chromatic reorganization, histone modifications, DNA methylation, and miRNA regulation, is critical for the normal development and functioning of the human brain. There are a number of maternal factors influencing epigenetic pathways such as lifestyle, including diet, alcohol consumption, and smoking, as well as age and infections (viral or bacterial). Genetic and metabolic alterations such as obesity, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), and thyroidism alter epigenetic mechanisms, thereby contributing to neurodevelopmental disorders (NDs) such as embryonic neural tube defects (NTDs), autism, Down’s syndrome, Rett syndrome, and later onset of neuropsychological deficits. This review comprehensively describes the recent findings in the epigenetic landscape contributing to altered molecular profiles resulting in NDs. Furthermore, we will discuss potential avenues for future research to identify diagnostic markers and therapeutic epi-drugs to reverse these abnormalities in the brain as epigenetic marks are plastic and reversible in nature.