Epigenetics applied to child and adolescent mental health: Progress, challenges and opportunities

Charlotte A. M. Cecil, Alexander Neumann, Esther Walton

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Abstract

Background
Epigenetic processes are fast emerging as a promising molecular system in the search for both biomarkers and mechanisms underlying human health and disease risk, including psychopathology.

Methods
In this review, we discuss the application of epigenetics (specifically DNA methylation) to research in child and adolescent mental health, with a focus on the use of developmentally sensitive datasets, such as prospective, population-based cohorts. We look back at lessons learned to date, highlight current developments in the field and areas of priority for future research. We also reflect on why epigenetic research on child and adolescent mental health currently lags behind other areas of epigenetic research and what we can do to overcome existing barriers.

Results
To move the field forward, we advocate for the need of large-scale, harmonized, collaborative efforts that explicitly account for the time-varying nature of epigenetic and mental health data across development.

Conclusion
We conclude with a perspective on what the future may hold in terms of translational applications as more robust signals emerge from epigenetic research on child and adolescent mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12133
JournalJCPP Advances
Volume3
Issue number1
Early online date23 Dec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Charlotte A. M. Cecil and Esther Walton have received funding for this work from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (EarlyCause; grant agreement No 848158). Esther Walton received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health (award number R01MH113930) and from CLOSER (ES/K000357/1). Charlotte A. M. Cecil and Alexander Neumann are also supported by the European Union's HorizonEurope Research and Innovation Programme (FAMILY; grant agreement No 101057529) and the European Research Council (TEMPO; grant agreement No 101039672).

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