The epigenome and postnatal environmental influences in psychotic disorders

Ehsan Pishva, Gunter Kenis, Daniel van den Hove, Klaus-Peter Lesch, Marco P. M. Boks, Jim van Os, Bart P. F. Rutten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives Schizophrenia spectrum disorders and bipolar spectrum disorders are the product of both heritable and non-heritable factors, the impact of which converges at different biological levels. Recent evidence from molecular approaches has provided new insights about how environmental exposures cause persistent alterations in the regulation of gene expression, particularly by so-called epigenetic mechanisms. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of findings of epigenetic studies in psychotic disorders, summarizing findings of human and animal studies on epigenetic alterations due to postnatal environmental exposures associated with psychotic disorders. Methods Electronic and manual literature search of MEDLINE, EMBASE and PSYCHINFO, using a range of search terms around epigenetics, DNA methylation, histone modifications, psychoses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and environmental risks associated with psychotic disorders as observed in human and experimental animal studies, complemented by review articles and cross-references. Results Despite several promising findings of differential epigenetic profiles in individuals with psychotic disorders in the studies published to date, the knowledge of the role of epigenetic processes in psychotic disorder remains very limited, and should be interpreted cautiously given various challenges in this rapidly evolving field of research. Conclusions Integration of epigenetic findings into biopsychosocial models of the etiology of psychotic disorders eventually may yield important insights into the biological underpinnings of the onset and course of psychotic disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-348
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Environment
  • Epigenetics
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Postnatal


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