Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance via nutrient chemicals
“Depending on the relationship, one’s mother can either produce stress or relieve it,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “This report shows that her effect on stress begins even before birth. The importance of choline cannot be overstated as we continue to unravel the role it plays in human health and development.”
This is the most potent indicator of how soon the epigenetic effects of nutrient chemicals and pheromones in the honeybee model organism will be extended to the role they play in human health and development. Each week it becomes more difficult to limit findings to one species that are linked to the common molecular biology shared by all species. For example, the epigentic effects of diet clearly are present in the honeybee, and they are responsible — along with the queen’s pheromones — for every interaction among the individuals in the colony. Moreover, nutrient chemicals and pheromones are responsible for the difference in the neuroanatomy of the worker bees’ brains. We now have a report on how maternal stress alters the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and how nutrient chemicals might reverse the effects of damaging hormone levels. That’s one step away from having a report on how human pheromones alter both the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) and the HPA axis to cause changes in intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression that enable the plasticity of our behavioral responses to sensory stimuli from our environment across a lifetime of experience. For those who haven’t quite figured out how human pheromones do that, it’s precisely the way that nutrient chemicals associated with food odors do it. And that’s how olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans.