The American Physiological Society Press Release

press release logo

APS Contact: APS Communications Office

Email: communications@the-aps.org

Phone: 301.634.7209

Twitter: @APSPhysiology


Environmental Pollution Exposure during Pregnancy Increases Asthma Risk for Three Generations

Epigenetic link may lead to new therapeutic options for asthma treatment

Bethesda, Md. (July 18, 2017)—Exposure to environmental pollutants during pregnancy may increase the risk of asthma for as many as three consecutive generations, according to new research. The study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology—Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

Researchers studied three generations of mice born to mothers that were exposed to either diesel exhaust particles or urban air particle concentrate during pregnancy. The research team compared cells from the lungs of the first, second and third generations of offspring to three generations of control offspring that were not exposed to the pollutants. All generations descended from mothers exposed to diesel exhaust particles had an abnormal increase in a type of immune cell, a common marker for allergy. Offspring of pollutant-exposed ancestors also showed elevated levels of interleukin proteins that are involved in regulating the immune system, which are a marker of asthma risk. However, the increase was more prominent in the first and second generations, suggesting that inherited risk factors lessen in further removed generations.

Environmental pollutant exposure before birth caused epigenetic changes in the offspring’s DNA that affect how genetic code is used (DNA methylation). The researchers found that atypical DNA methylation led to transgenerational asthma risk due to abnormal changes in a type of immune cell called dendritic cells. Dendritic cells play a key role in the development of asthma in early life.

Seeing the changes in DNA methylation and gene expression that affect the health of future generations (epigenetic transgenerational inheritance) may help doctors start to recognize asthma as not only an inflammatory disease but “to a large extent, an epigenetic disease,“ explained Alexey Fedulov, corresponding researcher on the study. “This approach may allow entirely new therapeutic strategies.”

Read the full article, “Transgenerational transmission of asthma risk after exposure to environmental particles during pregnancy,” in the American Journal of Physiology—Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact the APS Communications Office or 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.

 


RelatedItems

High-Fat Diet during Pregnancy Compromises Offspring’s Lung Health

Released March 29, 2017 - Women who follow a high-fat diet during pregnancy may increase their children’s risk for asthma. A mouse study by Oregon Health and Science University researchers suggests that consistent consumption of fat-laden foods may change the immune response of the offsprings’ respiratory system. The article is published in Physiological Reports.

To Eat or Not to Eat (Before Exercising): That Is the Question

Released March 6, 2017 - Exercise enthusiasts often wonder whether it’s better to eat or fast before a workout. A new study is the first of its kind to show the effects of eating versus fasting on gene expression in adipose (fat) tissue in response to exercise. This difference highlights the different roles fat plays in powering and responding to exercise. The study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology—Endocrinology and Metabolism.

From: 
Email:  
To: 
Email:  
Subject: 
Message:

~/Custom.Templates/PressRelease.aspx