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Your Environment. Your Health.

Dioxin Induces Disease and Reproductive Problems in Later Generations

Michael K. Skinner, Ph.D.
Washington State University
NIEHS Grant R01ES012974


NIEHS grantees report that dioxin (TCDD) administered to pregnant rats created epigenetic changes that led to a variety of reproductive problems and adult-onset disease in subsequent generations. They also identified epigenetic changes that might be useful as biomarkers of ancestral dioxin exposure and adult onset disease.  


Pregnant rats received dioxin exposure during fetal days eight to 14. The first generation of rats showed increased incidences of total disease and multiple diseases, including prostate disease, polycystic ovarian disease and fewer ovarian follicles. Third generation males had kidney disease and females had pubertal abnormalities, ovarian primordial follicle loss, and polycystic ovary disease.


The investigators also analyzed epigenetic changes in the third generation sperm, finding 50 differentially DNA methylated regions in gene promoters. These regions offer potential epigenetic biomarkers for transgenerational disease and ancestral environmental exposures. The researchers say that their results have implications for people who are exposed to dioxin.


Citation: Manikkam M, Tracey R, Guerrero-Bosagna C, Skinner MK. 2012. Dioxin (TCDD) Induces Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Adult Onset Disease and Sperm Epimutations. PLoS One 7(9):e46249; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046249 [Online 26 September 2012].

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