Principal Investigator: Dr Shantala Hari Dass
McGill University (Canada)Tags: 41975, adversity, dopamine, gene-network, insulin, polygenic risk score, susceptibility
Exposure to stress at the beginning of life increases the risk for health problems including heart disease, diabetes and mental health problems. These stressful events can affect the metabolism and the brain. However, people vary in the intensity of their reaction to stress, with a substantial portion of individuals being resistant. These individuals might be less vulnerable than others to develop health problems due to their genetic background. Genes work together in networks, such that variation in the reaction intensity may derive from multiple genes. In this project we will create a novel cumulative metric to capture a gene network. The question of this project is if we can identify individuals vulnerable for psychiatric and metabolic diseases very early in life, before they even develop these conditions, so that we can try to prevent these diseases. We will focus on important collection of genes involved in the communication between the body and the brain (for example those associated with insulin), on genes that are involved in modifying the brain response to the environment (for example, genes related to dopamine and neurogenesis), that have already been extensively implicated in the development of metabolic and psychiatric disorders. This novel approach will allow us do identify important brain regions, identify differences in the way the individuals react to stress in early life and use this to shape intervention and prevention strategies.