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Exposure to toxins makes great granddaughters more susceptible to stress
Date:8/25/2014

hormonal balance and behavior. However, the combination of ancestral exposure and stress caused the female rats to have dramatically higher levels of corticosterone (a stress hormone similar to cortisol in humans), higher expression of genes associated with anxiety and more anxious behaviors. Other research has shown that stress hormones cause degeneration of a region of the brain associated with memory and learning.

Crews said that following exposure to EDCs, what is being passed down from generation to generation is not a change in the genetic code of the animals, but rather a change in the way specific genes are expressed. Gene expression is the process by which a cell uses the genetic code to make useful products such as proteins. If a section of a person's genetic code were a cookie recipe, gene expression would refer to how many cookies, if any, a cook makes with the recipe. The observation that changes in gene expression can be passed on to future generations has led to a new field of research known as epigenetics.

Crews and others have shown that EDCs can increase the risk in future generations for human illnesses such as autism, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Crews noted that environmental levels of EDCs are continuing to rise, as well as the rates of these diseases, particularly mental disorders.


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Contact: Marc Airhart
mairhart@austin.utexas.edu
512-232-1066
University of Texas at Austin
Source:Eurekalert  

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