A paternal environmental legacy: Evidence for epigenetic inheritance through the male germ line

Journal Article

Literature on maternal exposures and the risk of epigenetic changes or diseases in the offspring is growing. Paternal contributions are often not considered. However, some animal and epidemiologic studies on various contaminants, nutrition, and lifestyle-related conditions suggest a paternal influence on the offspring's future health. The phenotypic outcomes may have been attributed to DNA damage or mutations, but increasing evidence shows that the inheritance of environmentally induced functional changes of the genome, and related disorders, are (also) driven by epigenetic components. In this essay we suggest the existence of epigenetic windows of susceptibility to environmental insults during sperm development. Changes in DNA methylation, histone modification, and non-coding RNAs are viable mechanistic candidates for a non-genetic transfer of paternal environmental information, from maturing germ cell to zygote. Inclusion of paternal factors in future research will ultimately improve the understanding of transgenerational epigenetic plasticity and health-related effects in future generations. © 2014 The Authors.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Soubry, A; Hoyo, C; Jirtle, RL; Murphy, SK

Published Date

  • April 1, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 36 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 359 - 371

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1521-1878

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0265-9247

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/bies.201300113

Citation Source

  • Scopus