Sperm DNA methylation altered by THC and nicotine: Vulnerability of neurodevelopmental genes with bivalent chromatin.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Men consume the most nicotine and cannabis products but impacts on sperm epigenetics are poorly characterized. Evidence suggests that preconception exposure to these drugs alters offspring neurodevelopment. Epigenetics may in part facilitate heritability. We therefore compared effects of exposure to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and nicotine on DNA methylation in rat sperm at genes involved in neurodevelopment. Reduced representation bisulfite sequencing data from sperm of rats exposed to THC via oral gavage showed that seven neurodevelopmentally active genes were significantly differentially methylated versus controls. Pyrosequencing data revealed majority overlap in differential methylation in sperm from rats exposed to THC via injection as well as those exposed to nicotine. Neurodevelopmental genes including autism candidates are vulnerable to environmental exposures and common features may mediate this vulnerability. We discovered that autism candidate genes are significantly enriched for bivalent chromatin structure, suggesting this configuration may increase vulnerability of genes in sperm to disrupted methylation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Schrott, R; Rajavel, M; Acharya, K; Huang, Z; Acharya, C; Hawkey, A; Pippen, E; Lyerly, HK; Levin, ED; Murphy, SK

Published Date

  • September 29, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 10 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 16022 -

PubMed ID

  • 32994467

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7525661

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2045-2322

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/s41598-020-72783-0


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England