, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp 415-434

Gene-environment interplay in neurogenesis and neurodegeneration

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Factors associated with predisposition and vulnerability to neurodegenerative disorders may be described usefully within the context of gene-environment interplay. There are many identified genetic determinants for so-called genetic disorders, and it is possible to duplicate many elements of recognized human neurodegenerative disorders in either knock-in or knock-out mice. However, there are similarly, many identifiable environmental influences on outcomes of the genetic defects; and the course of a progressive neurodegenerative disorder can be greatly modified by environmental elements. Constituent cellular defense mechanisms responsive to the challenge of increased reactive oxygen species represent only one crossroad whereby environment can influence genetic predisposition. In this paper we highlight some of the major neurodegenerative disorders and discuss possible links of gene-environment interplay. The process of adult neurogenesis in brain is also presented as an additional element that influences gene-environment interplay. And the so-called priming processes (i.e., production of receptor supersensitization by repeated drug dosing), is introduced as yet another process that influences how genes and environment ultimately and co-dependently govern behavioral ontogeny and outcome. In studies attributing the influence of genetic alteration on behavioral phenotypy, it is essential to carefully control environmental influences.