Early-life social connections influence gene expression, stress resilience

Early-life social connections influence gene expression, stress resilience

Early-life social connections influence gene expression, stress resilience Having friends may not only be good for the health of your social life, but also for your actual health—if you're a hyena, that is. Strong social connections and greater maternal care early in life can influence molecular markers related to gene expression in DNA and future stress response, suggests a new University of Colorado Boulder study of spotted hyenas in the wild. Researchers found that more social connection and maternal care during a hyena's cub and subadult, or "teenage," years corresponded with lower adult stress hormone levels and fewer modifications to DNA, including near genes involved in immune function, inflammation and aging. Published this week in Nature Communications, the study is one of the first to examine the association between early-life social environments and later effects on markers of health and stress response in wild animals. "This study supports this idea that, yes, these early experiences do matter. They seem to have an effect at the molecular level and future stress response—and they're persistent," said lead author Zach Laubach, a postdoctoral …
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