Starting 01.06.2019, the Institute of Biochemistry of the Romanian Academy is implementing the EMBED project, funded by UEFISCDI (contract 103, from 01.06.2019), through the ERA-NET COFUND-NEURON III grant call. The project aims to assess the shared molecular links between pre- and post-natal, metabolic and psychosocial stress, and the risks of depression later in life, and its duration will be 36 months.
Nearly 40% of the EU population each year suffers from a mental disorder. Adverse experiences early in life can produce important physiological changes, which become embedded biological traces leading to increased vulnerability for later depression. There is now robust evidence indicating that early metabolic challenges impinge upon energy balance regulatory systems, which, in many cases, overlap with stress-response systems. EMBED will identify informative DNA methylation differences associated with prenatal psychological and metabolic stressors in genes that are relevant for mood disorders. These will be related to shared biomarkers to define common biological substrates between early life stress and maternal obesity for prevention and treatment. We will also determine whether intervention strategies can reverse such epigenetic marks and related biomarkers. The relationship between DNA methylation pattern in human peripheral samples (cord blood) and brain will be studied in animal models and brain post-mortem samples from depressive patients. EMBED brings together leading researchers with complementary expertise to exploit existing clinical data sets, including biomaterial collections from previous collaborative proposals, that will be analyzed in an original and innovative way to study the role of different, but often co-occurring, adverse prenatal conditions on individual risk/resilience to develop mental disorders in adulthood. This research may lead not only to a better understanding of the risk architecture of major psychiatric disorders, but could also enable preventive measures in risk populations, new diagnostics and, potentially, therapeutic approaches since, in contrast to genetic variations, epigenetic effects on the transcriptome may be reversed, also in adulthood.
The primary objectives of this work are to:
As secondary objectives, the project aims to also:
This project is funded by UEFISCDI (contract 103, from 01.06.2019), through the ERA-NET COFUND-NEURON III (2018) grant call. For more details, please visit: https://uefiscdi.gov.ro/neuron-cofund
Center for Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità ISS
Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161, Rome, Italy
Department of Genetic Epidemiology in Psychiatry. Central Institute of Mental Health CIMH
J 5, 68159, Mannheim, Germany
Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University McGU
McIntyre Medical Building 3655 Prom. Sir William Osle, QC H3G 0B1, Montreal, Canada
Department of Bioinformatics and Structural Biochemistry, Institute of Biochemistry, Romanian Academy RomAcad
Splaiul Independentei 296, 060031 Bucharest, Romania
Up to this moment there have been no publications resulting from this project.