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Publication Date




Publication Title

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health






4123 (17 pg.)


With challenges in understanding the multifactorial etiologies of disease and individual treatment effect heterogeneities over the past four decades, much has been acquired on how physical, chemical and social environments a ffect human health, predisposing certain subpopulations to adverse health outcomes, especially the socio-environmentally disadvantaged (SED). Current translational data on gene and adverse environment interaction have revealed how adverse gene-environment interaction, termed aberrant epigenomic modulation, translates into impaired gene expression via messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) dysregulation, reflecting abnormal protein synthesis and hence dysfunctional cellular differentiation and maturation. The environmental influence on gene expression observed in most literature includes physical, chemical, physicochemical and recently social environment. However, data are limited on spiritual or religious environment network support systems, which reflect human psychosocial conditions and gene interaction. With this limited information, we aimed to examine the available data on spiritual activities characterized by prayers and meditation for a possible explanation of the nexus between the spiritual network support system (SNSS) as a component of psychosocial conditions, implicated in social signal transduction, and the gene expression correlate. With the intent to incorporate SNSS in human psychosocial conditions, we assessed the available data on bereavement, loss of spouse, loneliness, social isolation, low socio-economic status (SES), chronic stress, low social status, social adversity (SA) and early life stress (ELS), as surrogates for spiritual support network connectome. Adverse human psychosocial conditions have the tendency for impaired gene expression through an up-regulated conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA) gene expression via social signal transduction, involving the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), beta-adrenergic receptors, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the glucocorticoid response. This review specifically explored CTRA gene expression and the nuclear receptor subfamily 3 group C member 1 (NR3C1) gene, a glucocorticoid receptor gene, in response to stress and the impaired negative feedback, given allostatic overload as a result of prolonged and sustained stress and social isolation as well as the implied social interaction associated with religiosity. While more remains to be investigated on psychosocial and immune cell response and gene expression, current data on human models do implicate appropriate gene expression via the CTRA and NR3C1 gene in the SNSS as observed in meditation, yoga and thai-chi, implicated in malignant neoplasm remission. However, prospective epigenomic studies in this context are required in the disease causal pathway, prognosis and survival, as well as cautious optimism in the application of these findings in clinical and public health settings, due to unmeasured and potential confoundings implicated in these correlations.


© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.

Original Publication Citation

Holmes, L., Chinaka, C., Elmi, H., Deepika, K., Pelaez, L., Enwere, M., . . . Dabney, K. W. (2019). Implication of spiritual network support system in epigenomic modulation and health trajectory. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(21), 4123. doi:10.3390/ijerph16214123