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  • 1
    Abstract: BACKGROUND: Prenatal and early postnatal exposures to environmental factors are considered responsible for the increasing prevalence of allergic diseases. Although there is some evidence for allergy-promoting effects in children because of exposure to plasticizers, such as phthalates, findings of previous studies are inconsistent and lack mechanistic information. OBJECTIVE: We investigated the effect of maternal phthalate exposure on asthma development in subsequent generations and their underlying mechanisms, including epigenetic alterations. METHODS: Phthalate metabolites were measured within the prospective mother-child cohort Lifestyle and Environmental Factors and Their Influence on Newborns Allergy Risk (LINA) and correlated with asthma development in the children. A murine transgenerational asthma model was used to identify involved pathways. RESULTS: In LINA maternal urinary concentrations of mono-n-butyl phthalate, a metabolite of butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), were associated with an increased asthma risk in the children. Using a murine transgenerational asthma model, we demonstrate a direct effect of BBP on asthma severity in the offspring with a persistently increased airway inflammation up to the F2 generation. This disease-promoting effect was mediated by BBP-induced global DNA hypermethylation in CD4(+) T cells of the offspring because treatment with a DNA-demethylating agent alleviated exacerbation of allergic airway inflammation. Thirteen transcriptionally downregulated genes linked to promoter or enhancer hypermethylation were identified. Among these, the GATA-3 repressor zinc finger protein 1 (Zfpm1) emerged as a potential mediator of the enhanced susceptibility for TH2-driven allergic asthma. CONCLUSION: These data provide strong evidence that maternal BBP exposure increases the risk for allergic airway inflammation in the offspring by modulating the expression of genes involved in TH2 differentiation through epigenetic alterations.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 28392331
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  • 2
    Abstract: Background: Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can alter normal physiology and increase susceptibility to non-communicable diseases like obesity. Especially the prenatal and early postnatal period is highly vulnerable to adverse effects by environmental exposure, promoting developmental reprogramming by epigenetic alterations. To obtain a deeper insight into the role of prenatal bisphenol A (BPA) exposure in children's overweight development, we combine epidemiological data with experimental models and BPA-dependent DNA methylation changes. Methods: BPA concentrations were measured in maternal urine samples of the LINA mother-child-study obtained during pregnancy (n = 552), and BPA-associated changes in cord blood DNA methylation were analyzed by Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip arrays (n = 472). Methylation changes were verified by targeted MassARRAY analyses, assessed for their functional translation by qPCR and correlated with children's body mass index (BMI) z scores at the age of 1 and 6 years. Further, female BALB/c mice were exposed to BPA from 1 week before mating until delivery, and weight development of their pups was monitored (n 〉/= 8/group). Additionally, human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells were treated with BPA during the adipocyte differentiation period and assessed for exposure-related epigenetic, transcriptional and morphological changes (n = 4). Results: In prenatally BPA-exposed children two CpG sites with deviating cord blood DNA-methylation profiles were identified, among them a hypo-methylated CpG in the promoter of the obesity-associated mesoderm-specific transcript (MEST). A mediator analysis suggested that prenatal BPA exposure was connected to cord blood MEST promoter methylation and MEST expression as well as BMI z scores in early infancy. This effect could be confirmed in mice in which prenatal BPA exposure altered Mest promoter methylation and transcription with a concomitant increase in the body weight of the juvenile offspring. An experimental model of in vitro differentiated human mesenchymal stem cells also revealed an epigenetically induced MEST expression and enhanced adipogenesis following BPA exposure. Conclusions: Our study provides evidence that MEST mediates the impact of prenatal BPA exposure on long-term body weight development in offspring by triggering adipocyte differentiation.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 29721103
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