Washington: A new study has revealed that ancestral exposures to the pesticide methoxychlor may lead to kidney disease, ovarian disease and obesity in future generations.
According to the researchers at Washington State University, if someone's great-grandmother was exposed to during pregnancy, like the pesticide methoxychlor, then they will pass it on to their grandchildren in the absence of any continued exposures.
Michael Skinner, WSU professor and founder of its Center for Reproductive Biology said that the pesticide may be affecting how genes are turned on and off in the progeny of an exposed animal, even though its DNA and gene sequences remain unchanged.
When Skinner and his colleagues exposed gestating rats to methoxychlor at a range typical of high environmental exposures, they saw increases in the incidence of kidney disease, ovary disease and obesity in offspring spanning three generations. The incidence of multiple diseases increased in the third generation or "great-grandchildren."
The study identified mutations in the sperm epigenome of great-grandchild male rats. The epigenome functions like a set of switches for regulating gene expression and can be altered by environmental conditions.
The epigenetic changes observed were specific to methoxychlor exposure and may prove to be valuable biomarkers for future research on transgenerational disease.
The study was published online in PLOS ONE.