Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Tributyltin Linked to Transgenerational Obesity

Bruce Blumberg, Ph.D.
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Irvine

An NIEHS-supported study showed that that mice prenatally exposed to the endocrine disruptor tributyltin (TBT) were more likely to be obese, and the effects persisted in subsequent generations not directly exposed to TBT. The findings hold important implications for understanding obesity in people.

TBT is used as an antifungal agent in some paints, certain plastics, and consumer products. To analyze the effects of TBT, the researchers exposed pregnant mice to doses comparable to the established human tolerable daily intake. The offspring of the pregnant mice exposed to TBT and the subsequent two generations of mice had a greater number of fat cells, larger fat cells, and heavier fat depots. The TBT exposure also reprogrammed mesenchymal stem cells so that they were more likely to become adipocytes instead of bone and produced changes in the liver that resembled nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. If TBT has similar effects on people, then exposure to it and other endocrine disruptors could reprogram the metabolism of exposed individuals and future generations, predisposing them toward weight gain.


Citation: : Chamorro-García R, Sahu M, Abbey RJ, Laude J, Pham N, Blumberg B. 2013. Transgenerational Inheritance of Increased Fat Depot Size, Stem Cell Reprogramming, and Hepatic Steatosis Elicited by Prenatal Obesogen Tributyltin in Mice. Environ Health Perspect; doi:10.1289/ehp.1205701 [Online 15 January 2013].

to Top