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Epigenetics: Definition and Family History

Epigenetics Definition

Epigenetics refers to the learning of fluctuations in creatures induced by gene expression alteration instead of modification of the ‘genetic code itself. Mantovani and Fucic (2021) further define the term as heritable changes that are not a result of variations in DNA sequence. Histone modification, acetylation, and DNA methylation are responsible for epigenetics occurrences. The processes act by varying the chromatin structure and DNA accessibility, thus amending configurations of gene manifestation (Kumari et al., 2020). The DNA methylation and histone effects are essential and regular events in that they help in the differentiation and development of distinctive cell ancestries in adult organisms.

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Epigenetic and Family History

Epigenetics holds a significant explanation for why even identical twins frequently exhibit different traits. According to the theory, nature and nurture play crucial roles during a person’s development (Mantovani & Fucic, 2021). Mantovani and Fucic (2021) say that children always inherit genes from their parents, which influence their development and growth. For example, the parents’ gene determines the height and temperament of the child due to the inheritance aspect. However, epigenetics maintain that variations in experiences during a young one’s development rearrange the genetic marks governing gene expression, thereby varying the release of information by the gene. Therefore, epigenetics explain the effects of early experiences on lifelong situations.

Undertaking an interview on my family history revealed several interesting findings, including the family trauma history. The interview reiterates the essence of epigenetics among all families and across generations. Trauma and insomnia are common challenges in my family, based on the interview, as noted earlier. The inquiry involved over two thousand members of the larger family living in different places. As per the findings, about five young adults in my family exhibit insomnia, fear, and chills and are school dropouts. Three percent of the family’s children fear falling asleep because of the feeling that a terrible thing may happen when sleeping. The situation leads to frequent screams and night walks, often disturbing the parents of the children and close relatives. Family members depicting fear and insomnia issues are between nineteen and twenty years, as per the interview.

A further investigation into the family’s lineage implies a meaningful connection between the current occurrences and the past. Over twenty members of the family line experienced similar feelings almost simultaneously. Thomas is a distant relative and the latest culprit to experience such trauma. He, Thomas, is a famous college baseball player but no longer attends school. He also fears sleeping and makes intense screams whenever he finds himself asleep. Thomas is nineteen years old and leads a depressing life, which forces him to seek Mark Wolynn’s, a San Francisco family therapist’s, intervention. The event led to the revelation that Thomas experiences identical trouble to his uncle, Graham, who passed away twenty years ago. Graham suffered hypothermia in a blizzard and was nineteen years, exactly Thomas’ age.

One Article on Epigenetics

Al Jowf et al. (2021) provide crucial information linking genetic information to conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder. The article notes that about eight percent of the world’s population suffers from terminal stress-related conditions. This aspect imposes a substantial burden on the world’s economy and the general health system. PTSD affects people after experiencing traumatic situations in the past or during life. The encounter triggers predominant risk factors in the victims’ brains, causing them to live in fear or distress (Al Jowf et al., 2021). According to the researchers, experiencing stress for a prolonged period also leads to PTSD symptoms. The scholars thus prove stress as an example of the environmental aspects causing variation in genetic expression.

Susceptibility to post-traumatic stress disorder varies across different people worldwide. About ninety percent of the global population encounters stressful occurrences almost daily, while only less than ten percent develop PTSD (Al Jowf et al., 2021). Al Jowf et al. associate such a difference with crucial inter-individual variations, mostly related to epigenetic concerns. As per Al Jowf et al. (2021), Epigenetics connotes the environmentally subtle alterations to RNA and DNA molecules that control gene dictation deprived of changing the genetic sequence. The researchers base their study on biochemical, molecular biological, and physiological modifications in PTSD to investigate the role of epigenetics in the matter. Consequently, the article holds a substantial ability to explain the prevalence of trauma in our family.

Epigenesis Concept and My Family History

Epigenesis generally refers to a biological theory insisting that embryos develop gradually from an identical egg cell. Such implies the deep connection and genetic relationship in the family lineage, where mainly a child’s experiences play the differentiation role. Thomas and Graham’s case significantly proves the epigenesis theory’s effectiveness in our family. Thomas is nineteen years old and experiences precisely the same conditions his late uncle depicted thirty years ago. The situation forces Thomas to leave school and drop his brilliant baseball career, piling more stress and pressure. The case shows that most of the embryos in my family lineage come from an identical parent, who probably exhibited stress and depression conditions. The variation in childhood experiences further seems to be the safeguarding factor for most of my family members who do not have Thomas’ symptoms. Moreover, looking at other families’ linages also depicts critical hereditary problem that often affects the families adversely. Therefore, the reality among the global families makes epigenesis an actual biological model worth explaining numerous challenges affecting domestic lineages.

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The Living to 100 Questionnaires

My response to the Living to 100 returned a report that I will reach one hundred years, as shown by Appendix 1. The report utilizes several questions that check an individual’s family, medical, health, professional, and academic history. Issues of concern under the daily living process in the questionnaire include undertaking physical exercise, eating healthy meals, having regular medical checkups, and the age and dependence of parents. The questionnaire also seeks information about terminal conditions among parents and close family members to return the report. Learning the essence of physical exercise, maintaining a healthy BMI, undertaking regular medical inspections, and avoiding stress through practices such as meditation helped me to believe the questionnaire’s report. The point that my parents are healthy while I never use either alcohol or tobacco further increases my expectation to live to one hundred years.

Ways to Improve My Health

The Living to 100 questionnaires raised a critical issue concerning my busy life and tendency to consume junk and carbonated sugar when committed. I work over eighty hours a week while sleeping less than eight hours a day often. My busy life also disrupts my exercise ability and schedule regularly. During the questionnaires, the inability to quote my blood pressure, LDL, and HDL levels also concerned me significantly. That is why I am determined to improve my medical health checkups to meet my health dream.

References

Al Jowf, G. I., Snijders, C., Rutten, B. P. F., de Nijs, L., & Eijssen, L. M. T. (2021). The molecular biology of susceptibility to post-traumatic stress disorder: Highlights of epigenetics and epigenomics. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(19). Web.

Kumari, N., Karmakar, A., & Ganesan, S. K. (2020). Targeting epigenetic modifications as a potential therapeutic option for diabetic retinopathy. Journal of Cellular Physiology, 235(3), 1933–1947. Web.

Mantovani, A., & Fucic, A. (2021). Challenges in endocrine disruptor toxicology and risk assessment (Ser. Issues in toxicology, 42). Royal Society of Chemistry.

Appendix 1

Life Expectancy Calculator

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