by Eric Sorensen, WSU science writer
Pullman, WA (SPX) Mar 15, 2012
A Washington State University researcher has demonstrated that a variety of environmental toxicants can have negative effects on not just an exposed animal but the next three generations of its offspring.
The animal's DNA sequence remains unchanged, but the compounds change the way genes turn on and off - the epigenetic effect studied at length by WSU molecular biologist Michael Skinner and expanded on in the current issue of the online journal PLoS ONE.
While Skinner's earlier research has shown similar effects from a pesticide and fungicide, this is the first to show a greater variety of toxicants - including jet fuel, dioxin, plastics and the pesticides DEET and permethrin - promoting epigenetic disease across generations.
"We didn't expect them all to have transgenerational effects, but all of them did," Skinner told the technology website Gizmodo. "I thought hydrocarbon would be negative but it was positive too."
This tells researchers that the ability to promote transgenerational disease is "not simply a unique aspect for a unique compound" but a characteristic of many environmental compounds.
The field opens new ground in the study of how diseases develop. While toxicologists generally focus on animals exposed to a compound, Skinner's work further demonstrates that diseases can also stem from older, ancestral exposures that are then mediated through epigenetic changes in sperm.
The work also points the way to identify and diagnose exposures through the use of specific epigenetic molecular markers.
"In the future we might be able to use these epigenetic biomarkers to determine your ancestral and personal exposure early in life and to predict your susceptibility to get a disease later in life," Skinner said.
The study was funded by the U.S. Army to study pollutants that troops might be exposed to. Skinner and his colleagues exposed pregnant female rats to relatively high but non-lethal amounts of the compounds and tracked changes in three generations of offspring.
The researchers saw females reaching puberty earlier, increased rates in the decay and death of sperm cells and lower numbers of ovarian follicles that later become eggs. Future studies can use the molecular tools for risk assessment analysis.
The paper, "Transgenerational Actions of Environmental Compounds on Reproductive Disease and Identification of Epigenetic Biomarkers of Ancestral Exposures," can be found here.
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up
Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.
Gorbachev calls for global court for environmental crimes
Paris (AFP) March 13, 2012
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev called on Tuesday for the creation of an international court to try environmental crimes, in an interview published in French daily Le Monde. "I would personally look favourably upon creating an international tribunal to try those responsible for environmental crimes, both business leaders and the heads of state or government," the 81-year-old Nobel Pea ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|