Ancestral perinatal obesogen exposure results in a transgenerational thrifty phenotype in mice

Nat Commun. 2017 Dec 8;8(1):2012. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01944-z.


Ancestral environmental exposures to non-mutagenic agents can exert effects in unexposed descendants. This transgenerational inheritance has significant implications for understanding disease etiology. Here we show that exposure of F0 mice to the obesogen tributyltin (TBT) throughout pregnancy and lactation predisposes unexposed F4 male descendants to obesity when dietary fat is increased. Analyses of body fat, plasma hormone levels, and visceral white adipose tissue DNA methylome and transcriptome collectively indicate that the F4 obesity is consistent with a leptin resistant, thrifty phenotype. Ancestral TBT exposure induces global changes in DNA methylation and altered expression of metabolism-relevant genes. Analysis of chromatin accessibility in F3 and F4 sperm reveals significant differences between control and TBT groups and significant similarities between F3 and F4 TBT groups that overlap with areas of differential methylation in F4 adipose tissue. Our data suggest that ancestral TBT exposure induces changes in chromatin organization transmissible through meiosis and mitosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Female
  • Inheritance Patterns / genetics
  • Lactation
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / genetics*
  • Transcriptome*
  • Trialkyltin Compounds / toxicity*


  • Trialkyltin Compounds
  • tributyltin