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Horm Behav. 2011 Mar;59(3):290-5. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.05.004. Epub 2010 May 17.

Sex-specificity in transgenerational epigenetic programming.

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Department of Animal Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Prenatal programming of the epigenome is a critical determinant in offspring outcome and stands at the interface between environment and genetics. Maternal experiences such as stress and obesity are associated with a host of neurodevelopmental and metabolic diseases, some of which have been characterized into the second and third generations. The mechanism through which determinants such as maternal diet or stress contribute to disease development likely involves a complex interaction between the maternal environment, placental changes, and epigenetic programming of the embryo. While we have begun to more fully appreciate and explore the epigenome in determination of disease risk, we know little as to the contribution embryo sex makes in epigenetic regulation. This review discusses the importance of sex differences in the transmission and inheritance of traits that are generated in the prenatal environment using models of maternal stress and diet.

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