Epigenetic Impacts of Endocrine Disruptors in the Brain

The acquisition of reproductive competence is organised and activated by steroid hormones acting upon the hypothalamus during critical windows of development. This review describes the potential role of epigenetic processes, particularly DNA methylation, in the regulation of sexual differentiation of the hypothalamus by hormones. The authors examined disruption of these processes by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in an age-, sex-, and region-specific manner, focusing on how perinatal EDCs act through epigenetic mechanisms to reprogram DNA methylation and sex steroid hormone receptor expression throughout life. These receptors are necessary for brain sexual differentiation and their altered expression may underlie disrupted reproductive physiology and behaviour. Finally, the authors reviewed the literature on histone modifications and non-coding RNA involvement in brain sexual differentiation and their perturbation by EDCs. By putting these data into a sex and developmental context it was concluded that perinatal EDC exposure alters the developmental trajectory of reproductive neuroendocrine systems in a sex-specific manner.

Authors: Walker DM, Gore AC. ;Full Source: Front Neuroendocrinology. 2016 Sep 20. pii: S0091-3022(16)30040-1. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2016.09.002. [Epub ahead of print] ;