Epigenetic transgenerational effects of endocrine disruptors on male reproduction.
Semin Reprod Med. 2009 Sep;27(5):403-8. Epub 2009 Aug 26. PMID: 19711250
Center for Reproductive Biology, School of Molecular Biosciences, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-4231, USA.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals generally function as steroid receptor signaling antagonists or agonists that influence development to promote adult-onset disease. Exposure to the endocrine disruptors during the initiation of male reproductive tract development interferes with the normal hormonal signaling and formation of male reproductive organs. In particular, exposure to the endocrine disruptor vinclozolin promotes transgenerational transmission of adult-onset disease states such as male infertility, increased frequencies of tumors, prostate disease, kidney diseases, and immune abnormalities that develop as males age. An epigenetic change in the germ line would be involved in the transgenerational transmission of these induced phenotypes. Nevertheless, other studies have also reported transgenerational transmission of induced epigenetic changes, without altering the germ line. Here we propose a nomenclature to help clarify both cases of transgenerational epigenetic transmission. An intrinsic epigenetic transgenerational process would require a germ-line involvement, a permanent alteration in the germ cell epigenome, and only one exposure to the environmental factor. An extrinsic epigenetic transgenerational process would involve an epigenetic alteration in a somatic tissue and require exposure at each generation to maintain the transgenerational phenotype.