Epigenetic transgenerational actions of environmental factors in disease etiology

DES actions involve alterations in epigenetic processes

2010 Study Abstracts

The ability of environmental factors to promote a phenotype or disease state not only in the individual exposed but also in subsequent progeny for multiple generations is termed transgenerational inheritance. The majority of environmental factors such as nutrition or toxicants such as endocrine disruptors do not promote genetic mutations or alterations in DNA sequence. In contrast, these factors have the capacity to alter the epigenome. Epimutations in the germ line that become permanently programmed can allow transmission of epigenetic transgenerational phenotypes. This review provides an overview of the epigenetics and biology of how environmental factors can promote transgenerational phenotypes and disease.

… Activation of the male and female reproductive systems at an inappropriate time during development by endocrine disruptor chemicals can alter normal physiology. For example, prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) produces several developmental abnormalities in the male mouse reproductive tract and increases tumor incidence. …
… The first experimental evidence that endocrine disrupting chemicals produce epigenetic changes came from experiments where neonatal exposure to DES produced abnormalities in the demethylation of the lactoferrin promoter. …
… Changes in methylation also explain the reappearance of increased susceptibility for tumor formation in F2 generation mice after developmental exposure to DES. Therefore, the actions of a number of endocrine disruptors involve alterations in epigenetic processes. …


  • Epigenetic transgenerational actions of environmental factors in disease etiology, Trends Endocrinol Metab, NCBI PubMed PMC2848884, 2010 April.
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    Luciano Ribas

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