Environmental studies as a tool for detecting epigenetic mechanisms in schizophrenia

Wim Veling, L.H. Lumey, Bas Heijmans, Ezra Susser

Research output: Book/ReportBookAcademic


Epigenetic mechanisms may play an important role in the etiological pathways of schizophrenia. Since the epigenetic status of the genome partly depends on environmental factors in pre- and postnatal environments, exposure to such factors should be taken into account in epigenetic studies of schizophrenia. Prenatal famine and childhood ethnic minority status have been identified as environmental risk factors for schizophrenia. These exposures can be used to investigate epigenetic effects on schizophrenia, since environmental exposure can be measured with sufficient precision, homogeneously exposed populations are available for study, and plausible biological pathways have been suggested (albeit less specific for migration). This chapter shows that epidemiological studies of famine and migration can help to detect epigenetic mechanisms in schizophrenia, by comparing the epigenome of exposed and unexposed schizophrenia cases and controls. The results of the comparisons will be different depending on the mechanism involved in the interplay between environment and epigenome. If these epidemiological designs are not applied, the overall result of epigenetic schizophrenia studies may well continue to be inconclusive. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHeidelberg
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-642-17426-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-642-17425-4
Publication statusPublished - 2-Jan-2011


  • Environmental risk factors
  • Epidemiology
  • Epigenetics
  • Famine
  • Migration
  • Schizophrenia
  • DNA
  • folic acid
  • accuracy
  • article
  • brain development
  • diet
  • DNA methylation
  • DNA repair
  • environmental exposure
  • environmental factor
  • epigenetics
  • ethnic group
  • folic acid deficiency
  • GABAergic transmission
  • gene expression
  • genetic susceptibility
  • genome
  • gestation period
  • human
  • hunger
  • marker gene
  • mental health care
  • migration
  • Netherlands
  • neural tube defect
  • neurotransmission
  • nonhuman
  • postnatal development
  • prenatal period
  • priority journal
  • randomized controlled trial (topic)
  • risk factor
  • schizophrenia


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