Prof. Dr. Daniel van den Hove
Phone: +31 43-3882203
- Prof. Dr. Klaus-Peter Lesch
- Dr. Angelika Schmitt-Böhrer
- Johanna Zöller
- Renzo Riemens
- Gabriela Ortega, MTA
Goals and fields of research
The main aim of this program is to increase our understanding the role of epigenetic mechanisms in the pathophysiology of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.
The organization of DNA into chromatin enables the cell to use powerful regulatory mechanisms broadly defined as epigenetics. Epigenetic changes are reversible and responsive to environmental influences, unlike genetic mutations, which represent rare events with permanent consequences on genes. Research on Neuroepigenetics aims to characterize the molecular basis that underlies sensitivity to environmental exposures and associated gene-environment (GxE) interactions in (neuro)psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and related endophenotypes, with a particular interest in epigenetics.
This program examines several aspects of epigenetic regulation, such as DNA methylation at promoter sites and chromatin modifications, in view of mental health and disease. Specific objectives are i) to identify epigenetically regulated molecular and cellular pathways that are causally involved in the etiologies of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, ii) to identify epigenetic signatures that predict the development and course of these disorders, ii) to determine the reversibility of neurobiological changes, and iv) to find novel preventive and therapeutic strategies in this respect.
These research themes and related questions are applied to neurodevelopmental disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, as well as neurodegenerative disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. State-of-the-art technologies (e.g. ranging from epigenome-wide association studies [EWAS] to single cell methylation profiling) are being employed to analyze epigenetic changes in single genes, signaling pathways or the entire (epi)genome. Research involves various innovative, translational projects using in vitro cell cultures (e.g. in vitro epigenetic editing), in vivo animal models (e.g. in vivo epigenetic editing), and human tissues and/or biologic samples to examine (epi)genetic modifications and to determine the precise mechanism responsible for these changes.
Of note, this research line acts in close collaboration with the Neuroepigenetics group at Maastricht University (the Netherlands).
Publications of the Neuroepigenetics group can be found on pubmed.