Neuroepigenetic mechanisms contribute to neuronal cell differentiation, brain development, and the regulation of synaptic activity. We are particularly interested in neuroepigenetic mechanisms underlying the stress response and sensory function. We follow a multi-level approach, studying short and long-term changes in DNA methylation patterns, mRNA expression, and histone modifications within and across different brain regions involved in HPA axis regulation, sensory pathways, and other phsysiological feedback mechanisms. According to our dual-activation hypothesis, the combined neural activity and hormonal stress response primes the epigenome for functional modifications in these systems. 

Associated Projects

SENSeD: Stress effects on neuroepigenetic mechanisms of sensory development

According to our dual-activation hypothesis, early life stress affects long-term stress responsivity and, at the same time, impacts developmental pathways of a variety of physiological systems and neural networks. In SENSeD, we assess epigenetic programming of the HPA axis and downstream effects of developmental trajectories of sensory networks (model organism: Gallus gallus f. domestica). 


Impact of early hatching conditions on epigenetic regulation of stress-related genes in Gallus gallus f. domestica

In this study, we compare differences in gene expression and DNA methylation patterns of stress related genes in brain tissue across two hatching conditions (on farm hatching vs. hatching at a commercial breeder and transport to farm) in a commercial chicken breed. The aim of the study is to further elucidate programming effects of the stress response and to improve animal welfare. 

Collaborator Dr. Rebecca Nordquist (Utrecht University)


Long-term effects of perinatal temperature stimulation on mRNA expression of regulatory neuropeptides neuropeptide Y (NPY) and proopiomelanocortin (POMC) in the hypothalamus (model organism: Gallus gallus f. domestica)

Perinatal temperature stimulation has shown to increase environmental plasticity in chicken. In this study, we specifically assess changes in the central regulation of the energy metabolism using hypothalamic NPY and POMC mRNA expression as biomarkers. 

Collaborator PD Dr. Barbara Tzschentke (HU Berlin)


Contact Dr. Vanessa Lux


Associated Publications

Lux, V. (2018). Epigenetic Programming Effects of Early Life Stress: A Dual-Activation Hypothesis. Current Genomics 19: 638-652.

Lux, V. (2013). With Gottlieb beyond Gottlieb: The role of epigenetics in psychobiological development. International Journal of Developmental Science 7(2): 69-78.