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ISSN: 2157-7412

Journal of Genetic Syndromes & Gene Therapy
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Review Article

Neurogenetics and Epigenetics in Impulsive Behaviour: Impact on Reward Circuitry

Trevor Archer1, Marlene Oscar-Berman2, Kenneth Blum3* and Mark Gold3

1Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Box 500, SE-40530 Gothenburg, Sweden

2Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, and Boston VA Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA

3Department of Psychiatry, University of Florida College of Medicine, and McKnight Brain Institute, Gainesville, FL, USA

*Corresponding Author:
Kenneth Blum
Department of Psychiatry
University of Florida, College of Medicine
PO Box 103424, Gainesville
Florida 32610-3424, USA
Tel: (352)392-3681
Fax: (352)392-9887
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: March 17, 2012; Accepted date:May 28, 2012; Published date: May 30, 2012

Citation: Archer T, Oscar-Berman M, Blum K, Gold M (2012) Neurogenetics and Epigenetics in Impulsive Behaviour: Impact on Reward Circuitry. J Genet Syndr Gene Ther 3:115. doi:10.4172/2157-7412.1000115

Copyright: © 2012 Archer T, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract

Adverse, unfavourable life conditions, particularly during early life stages and infancy, can lead to epigenetic regulation of genes involved in stress-response, behavioral disinhibition, and cognitive-emotional systems. Over time, the ultimate final outcome can be expressed through behaviors bedeviled by problems with impulse control, such as eating disorders, alcoholism, and indiscriminate social behavior. While many reward gene polymorphisms are involved in impulsive behaviors, a polymorphism by itself may not translate to the development of a particular behavioral disorder unless it is impacted by epigenetic effects. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) affects the development and integrity of the noradrenergic, dopaminergic, serotonergic, glutamatergic, and cholinergic neurotransmitter systems, and plasma levels of the neurotrophin are associated with both cognitive and aggressive impulsiveness. Epigenetic mechanisms associated with a multitude of environmental factors, including premature birth, low birth weight, prenatal tobacco exposure, non-intact family, young maternal age at birth of the target child, paternal history of antisocial behavior, and maternal depression, alter the developmental trajectories for several neuropsychiatric disorders. These mechanisms affect brain development and integrity at several levels that determine structure and function in resolving the final behavioral expressions.

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