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Science

Paternal Stress Is Passed To Offspring (arstechnica.com) 100

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers have discovered that stress experienced by male mice can be passed on to their offspring. "In earlier work, these scientists exposed male mice to six weeks of alternating stressors like 36 hours of constant light, a 15-minute exposure to fox odor, exposure to a novel object (marbles) overnight, 15 minutes of restraint in a 50 mL conical tube, multiple cage changes, white noise all night long, or saturated bedding.

Then the scientists allowed the mice to breed (abstract). Adult offspring of these chronically stressed dads had reduced hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal stress axis reactivity; when they themselves were restrained for 15 minutes, they did not make as much corticosterone as mice sired by relaxed dads. This is relevant, and problematic, because blunted stress responses in humans are associated with neuropsychiatric disorders like depression, schizophrenia, and autism."

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Paternal Stress Is Passed To Offspring

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  • Poor mice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by captaindomon ( 870655 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @04:15PM (#50805283)
    Seems like a pretty barbaric test on the subjects. I know, for the greater good and everything etc. etc., but at some point where do we draw the line and say this isn't humane to perform?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Those mice still are better off than cows and pigs.
      • All the great new drugs are tested on mice first... some of those mice are like, totally trippin' man... know what I mean?
    • Re:Poor mice (Score:5, Interesting)

      by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @04:22PM (#50805343)

      Anyway, compare that to the stresses imposed by society on humans. Alarm clocks, driving to work, job stress and anxiety, family matters, bills to pay, house and mortgage, etc. It's different but since we have a longer lifespan I'd say we have it worst than the mice.

      Also, since this is Slashdot, I'll add that at least those mice were allowed to have sex.

      • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

        They don't even seem different from stresses on humans. Most of those are things that a significant part of first-world humanity deals with on a daily basis.

    • You should probably read this article, from America's Finest News Source [theonion.com]. It explains everything.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Seems like a pretty barbaric test on the subjects. I know, for the greater good and everything etc. etc., but at some point where do we draw the line and say this isn't humane to perform?

      When it stops helping people.

    • Don't worry, god will make more mice.
    • Re:Poor mice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @05:08PM (#50805625) Journal

      I agree, this is inhumane to do to mice. We should just start making clones of humans so we can do the experiments on them.

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Oh no, exposure to marbles!

      • It's actually the withdrawal symptoms with that one. Have you ever seen a mouse who's lost his marbles?

    • The real purpose of the study is to find alternatives to waterboarding at Gitmo, but so far prisoners don't seem to be all that bothered by marbles or fox odor. Hopes were high when 96% of mice tested eventually admitted to having ties to extremist factions.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Animal cruelty in scientific testing presents a moral dilemma. We need the knowledge. If we choose not to do the tests, then we choose to remain in ignorance, which could result in suffering and death for uncountable numbers of people.

      The means of gaining life-saving knowledge is before us. But it requires us to inflict a lot of suffering on animals. So it is a tough call.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    tag

  • Fearful parents have crazy kids

    Suddenly the Middle East makes sense.

    And certain political groups.

    • So maybe we need to stop putting people into tiny fabric boxes and subjecting them to annual "performance review" torture processes. As a recent dad I am struck how much rearing kids in a good environment is a low priority in this and many other countries.

  • It seems like stress can have an impact on our genetic system that can be passed down to the offspring. Seems like an evolution not just based on natural selection but also based on the parent gene's experience as well. This is just a long shot, I am not an expert on this by any means!
    • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @05:02PM (#50805591)
      Darwin just wasn't aware of epigenetics, but that doesn't make him wrong. Like many other scientific theories, we do additional studies and and refine the theories when we find results that they fail to explain or results that contradict our hypotheses. This isn't something completely new, but we're just scratching at the surfaces of how it works.

      Here's one particular study in the area [nature.com] that's particularly interesting. What the researchers found was that people who's grandparents had suffered through a famine had lower mortality rates for certain diseases. What we're learning is that our DNA has some feedback mechanisms to environmental responses and isn't just a simple matter of passing along traits through genes. It's some really fascinating stuff.
      • Is this a genetic trait passed down ? Or is this a mutation that just happens to affect the next in line?
      • by narcc ( 412956 )

        Inheritance of acquired characteristics, not very long ago, was scientific heresy. There was evidence for it, but was lambasted and dismissed. (International politics may have played a role here.) There's a real danger in elevating things like this to sacred truths.

        Darwin just wasn't aware of epigenetics, but that doesn't make him wrong.

        On the contrary, it would appear that he was wrong. He went out of his way to deny just about everything Lamarck put forward. On the Origin of Species is not a holy book, sacred text, or any other similar thing. We've long moved beyond it.

    • He theorized that organisms adapt to their environment. If the environment causes stress in the parents you should expect to see changes in the offspring as a result.
    • It seems like stress can have an impact on our genetic system that can be passed down to the offspring. Seems like an evolution not just based on natural selection but also based on the parent gene's experience as well. This is just a long shot, I am not an expert on this by any means!

      Not likely Natural selection is natural selection. Ignoring th efact that Darwin didn't even know about genes, teh question isn't relevant to him. More likely (though I do nopt know at this time) the stress has an effect on the genetic makeup of the father's sperm.

      Another similar thing is a "maybe" link between obesity issues, possibly caused by exposure to estrogen mimic plastics, that may be pased to future generations.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/re... [sciencedaily.com]

      Now DES is a mimic that has been already lin

  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @04:36PM (#50805413) Journal

    This could explain the Flynn effect, which still exists when controlling for nutrition. I've often thought this is why problems can persist in children of extreme poverty and can persist over generations.

  • Unless humans women are breeding with male mice, I don't see this as being immediately relevant. Something to test for, to be sure, but there are some minor differences between the species.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Here:

      http://www.livescience.com/32860-why-do-medical-researchers-use-mice.html

      Fifth paragraph.

      You're welcome, although you did not deserve it.

    • Unless humans women are breeding with male mice

      I'm sure that there is a Tube for that, but you'll have to google it yourself.

  • "Another investigation highlighted that a sharp change in food availability in paternal grandmothers' resulted in an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality in granddaughters adults' life" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%96verkalix_study)

    Not only what you do can be passed to you children, but maybe also what your parents did!

  • Suppose this applies to humans the same as mice. How long do you think it takes for the effects of stress to show up in RNA, and how long does it take for it to be cleared? Of course there's there's some delay because of sperm production, but I didn't see any other info about the time required in that abstract. (Probably makes sense that it would be a study of its own.)

    Depending on how rapid the onset and falloff are, it might be pretty reasonable to say "yeah, that was a pretty bad couple weeks, let's p

  • Immigration (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @04:59PM (#50805571) Homepage
    Modern common sense (which is often wrong), believes that:

    1) First generation immigrants work very hard, but rarely become successful themselves. They live a very high stress life, but do manage to send their kids to college...

    2) Second generation immigrants succeed far beyond their parents, becoming doctors, lawyers, and other upper class positions. By the time they father children, they usually have made it, and live with less stress than their parents.

    3) Whereupon their children have no stress and become wastrels,

    • I think all this depends on the behavior of the male mice . . .did they stay around to take care and nurture their offspring? Did they pass off the stress to the mouse mother, who in turn, passed it off to the mouse child . . . ?

      The behavior of a human male, after the birth of a child has more affect on the baby, then anything that happened before the birth.

    • Actually, many first-generation immigrants are quite successful, at least by their own standards. They have much better lives than they would have had if they'd stayed home, and are able to send their children to college, something that they'd never have dreamt of doing in the Old Country. Just because they don't end up in the 1% doesn't mean that they're not a success.
  • What doesn't kill you makes your kids weaker?
    • Actually, no. It causes your kids to seek a less stressful environment and move to a hippie commune where they can commune with nature.

      Or hermits.

      That is the takeaway message from this study.

  • It's called epigenetics.
    https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @06:08PM (#50805939)
    After 60 years, we've turned around and decided discredited Russian biologist Trofim Lysenko was actually right??
    • After 60 years, we've turned around and decided discredited Russian biologist Trofim Lysenko was actually right??

      I hope you are joking.

      Lysenkoism It was a politically based movement - one that reminds me of denialists, that believed that things like wheat and barley could spontaneously transmute to each other, and many other odd beliefs. It's right up there with the idea that if your hand was cut off, your children will be born without one of their hands.

  • (in mice)

    Typical headline soundbite bullshit.
  • by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @07:14PM (#50806287)
    Is this one of those unduplicateable experiments?
  • the "I learned it by watching you!" anti-drug commercial of the '80s.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    It is amazing how things that aren't obviously genetic can be so linked to parentage ... I can understand hair color, facial structure, height, etc, but some behaviors like facial expression, or posture, or even complex behaviors like hoarding that I used to assume were entirely learned just seem too spookily similar from one generation to the next for them to be only imitation. Of course maybe they *are* j

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