MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Prof. Mansuy: The mains findings are that the transmission of the effects of traumatic stress in early life involves small non-coding RNAs in sperm. The study shows that some microRNAs are in excess in the sperm of adult males subjected to trauma during early postnatal life, but are also altered in the brain and in blood, and that these alterations are associated with behavioral and metabolic symptoms including depressive behaviors, reduced risk assessment and altered glucose/insulin metabolism. Injecting sperm RNA in fertilized oocytes reproduces these symptoms and confirm that RNA are the responsible factors.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Prof. Mansuy: It was unexpected that sperm RNA is sensitive to trauma and can be a mediator of the transmission of its effects across generations.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Prof. Mansuy: That environmental factors involving traumatic events and chronic stress in early life can be responsible for severe psychiatric disorders not only in exposed individuals but also in their progeny. In turn, that parents and children of affected people may need to be considered. Also, that such negative events affect not only the brain but other parts of the body and other functions not directly linked to the brain i.e. metabolism.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Prof. Mansuy: That environmental factors play a more important role than thought and that people have to reconsider the importance of the genome in perspective of non-genomic and epigenetic factors.