[Frontiers in Bioscience 10, 187--191, January 1, 2005]
A THREE-GENERATION APPROACH IN BIODEMOGRAPHY IS BASED ON THE DEVELOPMENTAL PROFILES AND THE EPIGENETICS OF FEMALE GAMETES
Michael Golubovsky and Kenneth G. Manton
Center for Demographic Studies, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA
TABLE OF CONTENTS
We suggest that there are three premises underlying the need for biodemographic analyses of three-generations: 1.) To describe the structure of the genome, we need to use (apart from mutations) other kinds of heritable changes such as those mediated by facultative elements (variations) and epigenetic alterations. 2.) There are many reasons to analyze individual development and its deviations, such as the biodemographic perspective of fertilization - but also including all long-term intra-generational events of oogenesis and meiosis (beginning with the embryogenesis of the individual's mother - or during the grandmother's pregnancy). 3.) We need to explore the reality that every fertilized egg links - physically and genetically - three successive generations. We focus on genetic and epigenetic events, which start during egg cell lineage determination in F(n-2) gestation and which influence the developmental profile of F(n) generation cohorts.
The three-generation approach in epidemiology and biodemography is important so that we might increase our understanding of the effects of environmental forces, such as viral epidemics, and of catastrophes, such as the Chernobyl accident. It is also important for evaluating the processes of senescence and the determinants of human disease.