facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Bullying by peers changes genes

Dec. 28, 2012 at 1:36 PM   |   Comments

MONTREAL, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Bullying by peers changes the structure around a gene involved in regulating mood, making victims more vulnerable to mental issues, Canadian researchers say.

"Many people think that our genes are immutable; but this study suggested environment, even the social environment, can affect their functioning," lead author Isabelle Ouellet-Morin of the University of Montreal, said in a statement. "This is particularly the case for victimization experiences in childhood, which change not only our stress response but also the functioning of genes involved in mood regulation."

Previous research by Ouellet-Morin found bullied children secreted less cortisol -- a stress hormone -- but had more problems with social interaction and aggressive behavior.

The current study indicated the reduction of cortisol, which occurs around the age of 12, was preceded two years earlier by a change in the structure surrounding the gene SERT, which regulates serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and depression.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, involved 28 pairs of identical twins with a mean age of 10 who were analyzed separately according to their experiences of bullying by peers: one twin had been bullied at school while the other had not.

"Since they were identical twins living in the same conditions, changes in the chemical structure surrounding the gene cannot be explained by genetics or family environment," Ouellet-Morin said.

"Our results suggest that victimization experiences are the source of these changes."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Featured UPI Collection
trending
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]

Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]

Most Popular
1
Schizophrenia is actually eight disorders, not one disease Schizophrenia is actually eight disorders, not one disease
2
Study: too many kids taking antibiotics Study: too many kids taking antibiotics
3
NFL players have 30 percent chance of developing Alzheimer's or dementia NFL players have 30 percent chance of developing Alzheimer's or dementia
4
Morning exercise helps calm ADHD symptoms in children Morning exercise helps calm ADHD symptoms in children
5
Yoga guru BKS Iyengar dies at 95 Yoga guru BKS Iyengar dies at 95
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback