Perinatal Diethylstilbestrol Exposure and Autoimmune Disease

Animal studies have suggested that prenatal DES exposure may alter immune system development and function


… “Diethylstilbestrol DES, a synthetic nonsteroidal compound possessing estrogenic activity, may have possible adverse effects on the postnatal human immune system after in utero exposure in women.

As an example, altered NK and T lymphocyte function in women exposed to DES in utero has been reported. In addition, Noller et al. have demonstrated an increased incidence of autoimmune diseases in women exposed in utero to DES. While it appears that estrogens mediate certain of their immune effects at the thymic level by altering thymic epithelium-dependent mechanisms, little is understood about mechanisms by which estrogenic chemicals may influence immune responses to foreign or self-antigens.

An increased risk of developing autoimmune disease in mice has been associated with altered prenatal hormonal environment. It has also been suggested that humans exposed in utero to DES may display a hyperreactive immune response. A retrospective study of DES-exposed (1711 individuals) and unexposed (922 individuals) cohorts examined the possibility that prenatal DES may affect the prevalence of autoimmune disease and found a positive correlation when autoimmune diseases were grouped. Specifically, the overall frequency of any autoimmune disease among exposed women was 28.6 per 1000 compared to 16.3 per 1000 among the controls (significantly different at p=0.02). Autoimmune diseases evaluated included systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, pernicious anemia, myasthenia gravis, thrombocytopenic purpura, rheumatoid arthritis, regional enteritis, chronic ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, Reiter’s syndrome, and optic neuritis. However, only Hashimoto’s thyroiditis occurred significantly more often in the exposed women (p=0.04) when these autoimmune diseases were considered individually. A similar evaluation of 1173 humans exposed to DES during development (1079 daughters and 94 sons) found increased rates of asthma, arthritis, and diabetes mellitus compared to the general population . In a more recent study evaluating rates of allergy, infection, and autoimmune disease in DES-exposed sons and daughters (253 men and 296 women) matched with similar unexposed individuals (241 men and 246 women), no differences in disease occurrence were detected. These authors concluded that a larger sample was needed to evaluate DES-associated risk of autoimmunity since autoimmune diseases are relatively rare in the human population.

Data from humans in the preliminary studies above suggest the possibility that exposure to DES in utero may result in postnatal immune alterations, including increased autoimmune disease. However, the difficulty with continued surveillance of DES-exposed sons and daughters required for more definitive statements will become more difficult as this cohort ages and members are lost. This makes laboratory rodent studies important to determine if prenatal exposure to chemicals such as DES may predispose an individual to postnatal autoimmunity via alteration of development of immune cells. Animal models will also be necessary to answer questions regarding specific immune cell targets and mechanisms of action resulting from such exposures.” …

… read Perinatal Estrogen Exposure Diethylstilbestrol, Arthritis Research, Immune System, arthritisresearch, 19 Dec 2016.


20 Replies to “Perinatal Diethylstilbestrol Exposure and Autoimmune Disease”

  1. Well, now, I’m a DES daughter and I also have Hashimotos. Interesting!

  2. I am a des daughter and i have hashimotos , m.e. fibromyalgia, Psoriasis and i started menoupause at 38

  3. Hi, I have fibromyalgia Sjögren disorder reumatoid arthritis osteoporosis osteoarthritis chronic neuropathic and muscularskeltor pain and related immune system where in both cases my immune system attacks itself( sorry for spelling) possible MS had a MRI yesterday where I had seizure/spasms from my head to my legs during MRI.Why who knows.My life is a guess what may occur tom.Mum was given DES injections for the whole term of her pregnancy with myself and my older brother.My older sister has MS.Interesting research

  4. Is there any correlation between DES children and esophagus issues, including chronic Gerd, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer?

  5. Vulvar cancer, Endometrial Cancer, Skin Cancer, Diabetes type 2, Metabolic Syndrome, possible Cushings and Thyroid disorders, obesity, being tested soon. Since teeen years, Chronic major depresssion, bipolar/ADHD/autismspectrum discorders, Body dismorphic disorder, anorexia/bulimia. Born with Ambiguous genetalia, and T uterus. My mother had multiple miscarraiges before I was born and was given DES and fertility treatments during the mid to late 1950’s. was given DES while carrying me. I was born premature and very small. I have neurological issues and fibromyalgia/chronic pain also. I just started researching DES recently and can’t even believe what I am reading about effects. My life/health has been so incredibly damaged by effects of this poison! I can’t even believe it but at least I know why now. My mother did not take after I was born and my younger brother was not affected, at least so far.

  6. I am a DES DAUGHTER with multiple Auto-Immune Disorders to include Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Raynauds, Hashimotos, etc etc. I had a T-Shaped Uterus, with extremely abnormal periods and when they came I clotted, bled thru my clothes and had to have two DNCs bc of it and horribly bad pain. Had a hysterectomy at 35 (not laparoscopic) but kept my ovaries. My Daughter is a DES 3rd Generation. She was able to get pregnant even though she has uterus didelphys, in which the woman has a double set of reproductive tract organs – two each of the uterus, cervix, and vagina. She suffers with abnormal periods that are light but extremely painful and gets severe dysentery. She had to have a C-Section and luckily, Thank God had a full term almost 8lb baby boy last September. Ladies, I have not been abusive to my body, however, I am plagued with health issues, and now my systemic lupus is attacking my kidneys and for my age they should be functioning at 100% however they are at 80%. I have had NO symptoms and doctors who have let ironed cultires and blood work slip thru the cracks for more than 20 years. Chronic proteinuria amongst a few other bladder/kidney abnormal test results. I was just dx last week with the beginning signs of Lupus Nephritis… (renal/kidney failure) I am 48. I highly encourage all DES daughters to get copies of allll your records soon then yearly thereafter and research ALL abnormal Blood and Urine tests… by the time all these studies are done and proven regarding autoimmune disorders and made public we may not have much life left in us… also my mother died at age 27 of atherosclerosis and my brother at age 32 of atherosclerosis! I honestly don’t believe all these disorders clustered together to attack me… I have so many dx it’s sickening and every single time I mention DES even to gynecologists they brush my questions off… well my gyne… was also my daughters doctor. So I brought up her deformed reproductive system basically saying now do you believe this is DES related and he said she has an abnormal and slightly rare reproductive system, but that has little to no correlation to DES (he prounounced it) ODDLY the other two gynecologists in the same office were excited to see my daughter bc In their 20+ year career one of them had one patient! After her C-section (WHO HAD EXTRA GYNECOLOGISTS OBSERVING) our gynecologist said a 7lb 14oz uterus didelphys baby is almost unheard of! NONE of the nurses on the OB floor except ONE had ever had a patient with my daughters condition… AND MY GRANDSONos lucky to be here bc at the beginning they thought she had a tubal pregnancy so they put her under for surgery and there was no baby in there or in the uterus according to her Ultrasound… lil Karson was IN THE OTHER UTERUS. who are we supposed to report our health issues too??? Bc there’s not enough time and space to tell u my story…

  7. Thank you for the informative info. I am a DES daughter and currently writing my memoir. People can email me statments to be included in one chapter–no names will appear.
    DES info is still lacking today. I’ve recently reviewed studies becaus one of my daughters has an autoimmune disease. I’ve had major female health issues and suffred from depression all my life.

  8. While it’s extremely important to continue this research, it makes me angry that we suffer with no chance of help for any of it. These diseases are life altering and costly, yet big pharma keeps making their billions with no thought of help for us, thei collateral damage.

  9. So do I and lots of others. Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and a few others. Also managed to get two cancer genes as well yah me lol RAD51C and Birt Hogg Dube

  10. Yup, me too also fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, hash. a few others that other commentors are speaking about. It can’t be a coincidence

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