Prenatal epigenetics diets play protective roles against environmental pollution

Clin Epigenetics. 2019 May 16;11(1):82. doi: 10.1186/s13148-019-0659-4.


It is thought that germ cells and preimplantation embryos during development are most susceptible to endogenous and exogenous environmental factors because the epigenome in those cells is undergoing dramatic elimination and reconstruction. Exposure to environmental factors such as nutrition, climate, stress, pathogens, toxins, and even social behavior during gametogenesis and early embryogenesis has been shown to influence disease susceptibility in the offspring. Early-life epigenetic modifications, which determine the expression of genetic information stored in the genome, are viewed as one of the general mechanisms linking prenatal exposure and phenotypic changes later in life. From atmospheric pollution, endocrine-disrupting chemicals to heavy metals, research increasingly suggests that environmental pollutions have already produced significant consequences on human health. Moreover, mounting evidence now links such pollution to relevant modification in the epigenome. The epigenetics diet, referring to a class of bioactive dietary compounds such as isothiocyanates in broccoli, genistein in soybean, resveratrol in grape, epigallocatechin-3-gallate in green tea, and ascorbic acid in fruits, has been shown to modify the epigenome leading to beneficial health outcomes. This review will primarily focus on the causes and consequences of prenatal environment pollution exposure on the epigenome, and the potential protective role of the epigenetics diet, which could play a central role in neutralizing epigenomic aberrations against environmental pollutions.

Keywords: DNA methylation; Environmental pollution; Epigenetics diet; Histone modification; miRNA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology
  • Brassica / chemistry
  • Catechin / administration & dosage
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives
  • Catechin / pharmacology
  • Diet
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Genistein / administration & dosage
  • Genistein / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Pregnancy
  • Protective Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology
  • Resveratrol / administration & dosage
  • Resveratrol / pharmacology


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Plant Extracts
  • Protective Agents
  • Catechin
  • epigallocatechin gallate
  • Genistein
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Resveratrol