Environmental toxicants 'may lead to ovarian disease across generations'
Washington, May 4 (ANI): Ovarian disease can result from exposures to a wide range of environmental chemicals and be inherited by future generations, a new study has revealed.
Washington State University reproductive biologist Michael Skinner and his laboratory colleagues looked at how a fungicide, pesticide, plastic, dioxin and hydrocarbon mixtures affected a gestating rat's progeny for multiple generations.
They saw subsequent generations inherit ovarian disease by "epigenetic transgenerational inheritance."
Epigenetics regulates how genes are turned on and off in tissues and cells. Three generations were affected, showing fewer ovarian follicles-the source of eggs-and increased polycystic ovarian disease.
The findings suggest ancestral environmental exposures and epigenetics may be a significant added factor in the development of ovarian disease, said Skinner.
"What your great grandmother was exposed to when she was pregnant may promote ovarian disease in you and you're going to pass it on to your grandchildren," he said.
"Ovarian disease has been increasing over the past few decades to effect more than 10 percent of the human female population and environmental epigenetics may provide a reason for this increase."
It marks the first time researchers have shown that a number of different classes of environmental toxicants can promote the epigenetic inheritance of ovarian disease across multiple generations.
Research by Skinner and colleagues showed earlier this year that jet fuel, dioxin, plastics, and the pesticides DEET and permethrin can also promote epigenetic inheritance of disease in young adults across generations.
The new study, said Skinner, provides a proof of concept that ancestral environmental exposures and environmental epigenetics promote ovarian disease and can be used to further diagnose exposure to toxicants and their subsequent health impacts.
It also opens the door to using epigenetic molecular markers to diagnose ovarian disease before it occurs so new therapies could be developed.
In a broader sense, the study shows how epigenetics can have a significant role in disease development and life itself.
The research appears in the online journal PLoS ONE. (ANI)
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