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J Mol Endocrinol. 2012 Aug 30;49(2):R61-7. doi: 10.1530/JME-12-0066. Print 2012 Oct.

Environmental epigenetics: a role in endocrine disease?

Author information

1
Department of Endocrinology, Children's Hospital Boston, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA. abby.fleisch@childrens.harvard.edu

Abstract

Endocrine disrupting chemicals that are structurally similar to steroid or amine hormones have the potential to mimic endocrine endpoints at the receptor level. However, more recently, epigenetic-induced alteration in gene expression has emerged as an alternative way in which environmental compounds may exert endocrine effects. We review concepts related to environmental epigenetics and relevance for endocrinology through three broad examples: 1) effect of early-life nutritional exposures on future obesity and insulin resistance, 2) effect of lifetime environmental exposures such as ionizing radiation on endocrine cancer risk, and 3) potential for compounds previously classified as endocrine disrupting to additionally or alternatively exert effects through epigenetic mechanisms. The field of environmental epigenetics is still nascent, and additional studies are needed to confirm and reinforce data derived from animal models and preliminary human studies. Current evidence suggests that environmental exposures may significantly impact expression of endocrine-related genes and thereby affect clinical endocrine outcomes.

PMID:
22798698
PMCID:
PMC3752847
DOI:
10.1530/JME-12-0066
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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