Multigenerational and Transgenerational Effects of Dioxins.


School of Pharmacy and Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland. [Email]


Dioxins are ubiquitous and persistent environmental contaminants whose background levels are still reason for concern. There is mounting evidence from both epidemiological and experimental studies that paternal exposure to the most potent congener of dioxins, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), can lower the male/female ratio of offspring. Moreover, in laboratory rodents and zebrafish, TCDD exposure of parent animals has been reported to result in reduced reproductive performance along with other adverse effects in subsequent generations, foremost through the paternal but also via the maternal germline. These impacts have been accompanied by epigenetic alterations in placenta and/or sperm cells, including changes in methylation patterns of imprinted genes. Here, we review recent key studies in this field with an attempt to provide an up-to-date picture of the present state of knowledge to the reader. These studies provide biological plausibility for the potential of dioxin exposure at a critical time-window to induce epigenetic alterations across multiple generations and the significance of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) in mediating these effects. Currently available data do not allow to accurately estimate the human health implications of these findings, although epidemiological evidence on lowered male/female ratio suggests that this effect may take place at realistic human exposure levels.


2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD),aryl hydrocarbon receptor,dioxins,epigenetic modifications,gender ratio,maternal,paternal,preterm birth,transgenerational effects,