Understanding epigenetics:

  • The genetic blueprint, or DNA, within all of the cells in our bodies is identical. However, there are hundreds of different types of cells that we are made of, and each of these cell types works in a different way. How does the same DNA tell one group of cells to perform the functions of neurons (brain cells), and tell another group of cells to perform the functions of the small intestine? The DNA indeed has all of this information stored within its sequence, but the DNA by itself is not able to tell which parts of the blueprint need to be used at the right places and times to perform the different functions that make up all of the specialized functions required to make our bodies work.
  • “Epigenetics” literally means “above genetics”, and most commonly refers to the addition of small chemical groups to the proteins around which the DNA is wrapped (chromatin modifications), or that are added directly to the DNA sequence itself (DNA methylation).  These small chemical groups help to direct the DNA in how it is used – at the right place and time – to make our cells work together in allowing our bodies to function normally.

Epigenetic reprogramming in sperm:


  • Epigenetic modifications and reprogramming in paternal pronucleus: sperm, preimplantation embryo, and beyond. Okada Y, Yamaguchi K. PDF
  • Spermatogenesis disruption by dioxins: Epigenetic reprograming and windows of susceptibility. Pilsner JR, Parker M, Sergeyev O, Suvorov A. LINK

Epigenetic effects of cannabis use:

  • High times for cannabis: Epigenetic imprint and its legacy on brain and behavior. Szutorisz H, Hurd YL. LINK
  • Multigenerational and transgenerational inheritance of drug exposure: The effects of alcohol, opiates, cocaine, marijuana, and nicotine. Yohn NL, Bartolomei MS, Blendy JA. LINK