Articles that explore the ways in which the environment influences gene expression and epigenetic marks, including information on pollution, toxins, and global warming.

Father’s Exposure to Phthalates Impact Epigenetic Marks on Sperm DNA

October 10, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

New epigenetic research conducted by scientists at the University of Massachusetts suggests that a father’s environment can affect the health of his baby via epigenetic marks in his sperm. Specifically, male exposure to phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors found in plastics, personal care products like shaving cream, and in the environment that surrounds us, were found to have an impact on a couples’ success when having children. Led by Richard Pilsner, an environmental health scientist, this ongoing study supported by [more…]

Epigenetic Research for Space Exploration

September 19, 2017 Natalie Crowley

Sixty years ago this October, a tiny little beach ball-sized satellite named Sputnik would usher in the beginning of the space age. Since that time, several space exploration achievements have transpired and many have included humans traveling in space. But humans weren’t exactly meant to live in outer space. Our bodies are uniquely adapted to the Earth’s gravity and environment. So if we want to travel longer distances into space, Mars for example, then we need to know how the [more…]

An Unlikely Savior: Vinegar Might Epigenetically Protect Plants From Drought

September 5, 2017 Tim Barry

Climate change is undoubtedly one of the greatest threats facing both plants and animals alike. With rising temperatures and irregular weather patterns, droughts have become a far too normal occurrence worldwide. These harsh conditions have proven to be difficult on the survival of agriculture, and scientists all over the world have been searching for a solution to this problem. As genetic engineering becomes more and more developed, scientists have turned to the possibility of editing the genomes of plants to [more…]

Pregnant Moms’ Exposure to Pollution May Epigenetically Increase Child’s Asthma Susceptibility

August 22, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Exposure to environmental pollution, such as diesel exhaust or concentrated urban air particles, during pregnancy could increase a child’s risk of developing asthma via epigenetic mechanisms. Recent research in the Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology suggests that this allergic susceptibility might even be epigenetically passed down for several generations. Asthma forms as a result of the complex interaction between someone’s genes, epigenetic marks, and the environment. Epigenetics, the study of how chemical tags impact the expression [more…]

B Vitamins Protect Against Harmful Epigenetic Effects of Air Pollution

May 30, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Air pollution has a negative impact on our health and can also adjust important chemical tags on our DNA. Aside from taking steps to reduce pollution in our communities, a new study suggests that we can take B vitamins to combat the harmful effects on our bodies. Particulate matter with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, or 3% of the diameter of human hair, is known as PM2.5. These fine particles have been shown to wreak epigenetic havoc on our [more…]

Epigenetics to the Rescue on Climate Change

April 4, 2017 Natalie Crowley

The impact of climate change may be one of the greatest threats facing all life on Earth today. Around the world, rising temperatures and extreme weather patterns are already affecting the habitats of many plants and animals. Undoubtedly, their fate will depend on their ability to either migrate away from or adapt to the new environment, and eventually evolve as a species. But, can life on our planet adapt in time? Most researchers believe that the rate in which our [more…]

Natural Compound in Cypress Trees Might Epigenetically Protect Against Cancer

March 21, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A chemical in an essential oil extracted from tree bark might actually reduce cancer growth. Researchers are finding that hinokitiol, a compound found in some cypress trees, not only has anti-infective and anti-oxidative properties, but it might also impact the epigenetic tags on top of DNA and reactivate genes that fight against tumor growth. The epigenetic mechanism known as DNA methylation has been crucial to our understanding of cancer. Irregular methylation suppresses genes that work to reduce tumor growth, which [more…]

Air Pollution Could Alter Tags on DNA and Increase Risk for Neurodegenerative Disease

February 21, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Not only is air pollution a major environmental concern, but it poses major health issues. New research suggests that inhaling extremely small particles known as fine particulate matter could add epigenetic marks to DNA. This may potentially lead to stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cognitive impairments and neurodevelopmental disorders. We’re certainly learning more about how our exposure to environmental toxins, especially pollution, affects the chemical tags that attach to our DNA and our health. Previous studies have linked traffic-related air [more…]

Dogs Exposed to BPA Give Us Epigenetic Clues About Our Own Wellbeing

December 20, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Exposure to a widespread environmental chemical could cause changes to chemical tags on DNA, which can impact the expression of genes and potentially increase the risk for disease. Researchers studied one of our closest companions – dogs – and the epigenetic effect of bisphenol-A (BPA) found in canned dog food. Since these animals share our environment more closely than any other species, they offer us valuable insight into the exposure of this toxic chemical and its potential epigenetic influence. Extensive [more…]

Fetal Development Epigenetically Influenced by Exposure to a Widespread Chemical in Plastic

August 9, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Evidence on the negative impact of the environmentally ubiquitous chemical, bisphenol-A (BPA), continues to mount. Previous research has shown that this endocrine disruptor causes adverse health effects during development and impacts the reproductive system, mimicking estrogen and binding to nuclear estrogen receptors as well as androgen receptors. BPA has been implicated in diseases such as obesity, infertility, endometrial cancer, osteoporosis, endometriosis, diabetes, prostate cancer, neurodegenerative disease and breast cancer. In a new mouse study published in The FASEB Journal, researchers [more…]

1 2