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Sperm Epigenetics May Be Skewed by Exposure to Plastics of Father

저자:   업로드:2017-09-18  조회수:

    Chemicals found in plastics and personal-care products like shaving cream have been known to alter men’s hormone levels and diminish semen quality. Now these chemicals, additives called phthalates, have been found to modify sperm epigenetics. Specifically, phthalates have been linked with altered DNA methylation patterns.


    Although the phthalate-induced epigenetic changes don’t disrupt DNA at the sequence level, they may skew gene expression—not just in sperm, but also in developing embryos. By altering the expression of genes related to growth, cell movement, and cytoskeleton structure, phthalates—or, more precisely, phthalate metabolites—may influence couples’ prospects for reproductive success.


    The new findings come from an ongoing study led by environmental health scientist Richard Pilsner, Ph.D., at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As part of this study, researchers recruited 48 couples at an in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic and took a single urine sample from the men on the same day they donated sperm. The researchers measured 17 metabolites from eight different phthalate parent compounds in that sample, then performed DNA methylation analyses on sperm cells to examine statistical associations.


    After receiving sperm cells from the IVF clinic, the UMass team extracted and analyzed DNA samples. Using a genomics system to examine approximately 485,000 sites for DNA methylation, the researchers identified 6479 regions of interest in assessing a possible correlation between phthalate metabolite exposure and DNA methylation.




    "Rather than looking for methylation changes at individual sites on the DNA, we looked at DNA regions or clusters on genes that might be more biologically meaningful than individual sites,” explained Haotian “Howie” Wu, a graduate student and member of Dr. Pilsner’s team. “It's not just numbers we were interested in. We wanted to pay attention not only to the statistical relationships, but also the biology."


    Details of the researchers’ work appeared in the journal Human Reproduction, in an article entitled “Preconception Urinary Phthalate Concentrations and Sperm DNA Methylation Profiles among Men Undergoing IVF Treatment: A Cross-Sectional Study.” This article indicated that 131 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were associated with at least one urinary metabolite, and that most sperm DMRs were associated with antiandrogenic metabolites.


    “The DMRs were enriched in lincRNAs [long intergenic noncoding RNAs] as well as in regions near

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