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Acta Biol Hung. 1999;50(4):425-40.

Imprinting: perinatal exposures cause the development of diseases during the adult age.

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  • 1Laboratory of Experimental Endocrinology and Environmental Pathology LEEPA, University of Chile, Medical School, Santiago.


Since the early reports linking the development of clear cell cervicovaginal adenocarcinoma in young women with diethylstilbestrol treatment of their mothers during pregnancy, it became clear that perinatal exposure to several substances may induce irreversible alterations, that can be detected later in life. Current evidence suggests that these substances induce, by the mechanism of imprinting, alterations of the differentiation of several cell-types, resulting in the development of disease during the adult age. The most known delayed effects to prenatal exposure to agents displaying hormone action, pollutants, food additives and natural food components, substances of abuse and stress by the mechanism of imprinting are described. Among them, estrogens, androgens, progestins, lead, benzopyrenes, ozone, dioxins, DDT, DDE, methoxychlor, chlordecone, parathion, malathion, polychlorobiphenyls, pyrethroids, paraquat, food additives, normal food constituents, tetrahydrocannabinol, cocaine and opiates. It is concluded that perinatal exposure to several agents causes irreversible changes that determine health conditions during adulthood. Several diseases developing during adulthood probably were determined during early stages of life, under the effect of exposure or preferential mother's diet during pregnancy. Regulations to avoid these early exposures may contribute to an important improvement of health conditions of humankind.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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