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09.10.20 Trauma's epigenetic effect on progeny involves factors circulating in blood serum

last modified Oct 16, 2020 11:04 AM
Miska lab and colleagues in Zurich show that exposure to postnatal trauma triggers metabolic changes later in life in mice and humans, and these are paternally transmitted via PPAR nuclear receptor signalling activated by serum factors.
09.10.20 Trauma's epigenetic effect on progeny involves factors circulating in blood serum

Injecting serum from trauma-exposed males recapitulates metabolic symptoms in offspring

Involvement of circulating factors in the transmission of paternal experiences through the germline

van Steenwyk G et al. (2020) EMBO J e104579

DOI: 10.15252/embj.2020104579


Read the press release from University of Zurich, 'Early Trauma Influences Metabolism Across Generations'.



Abstract from the paper
Environmental factors can change phenotypes in exposed individuals and offspring and involve the germline, likely via biological signals in the periphery that communicate with germ cells.

Here, using a mouse model of paternal exposure to traumatic stress, we identify circulating factors involving peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) pathways in the effects of exposure to the germline. We show that exposure alters metabolic functions and pathways, particularly lipid-derived metabolites, in exposed fathers and their offspring. We collected data in a human cohort exposed to childhood trauma and observed similar metabolic alterations in circulation, suggesting conserved effects. Chronic injection of serum from trauma-exposed males into controls recapitulates metabolic phenotypes in the offspring.

We identify lipid-activated nuclear receptors PPAR as potential mediators of the effects from father to offspring. Pharmacological PPAR activation in vivo reproduces metabolic dysfunctions in the offspring and grand-offspring of injected males, and affects the sperm transcriptome in fathers and sons. In germ-like cells in vitro, both serum and PPAR agonist induce PPAR activation. Together, these results highlight the role of circulating factors as potential communication vectors between the periphery and the germline.




Read more about research in the Miska lab.

Watch Eric Miska describe his research on YouTube.

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