Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis Editor's Choice - April 2015
The Editor's Choice for April is "Prenatal Phthalate Exposure, Infant Growth, and Global DNA Methylation of Human Placenta” by Yan Zhao, Hui-jing Shi, Chang-ming Xie, Jiao Chen, Hannah Laue and Yun-hui Zhang.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are added to plastics to make them more flexible and durable. Understanding the impact of environmental exposure to phthalates is an ongoing and important public health concern. To understand potential developmental effects of phthalates on fetal growth, Zhao et al. compared the levels of phthalate metabolites in the urine of women with normal pregnancies to that of women with intrauterine growth restriction or low birth weight infants. They observed significantly higher levels of phthalate metabolites in the urine of mothers whose newborns showed fetal growth restriction (FGR) and concluded mothers with elevated phthalates in their urine were more likely to exhibit FGR. Because DNA methylation can regulate gene expression, and thereby cellular function, Zhao et al. examined the relationship between phthalate levels in urine and LINE-1 methylation in placental DNA. They found placental LINE-1 methylation was negative correlated with phthalate exposure levels and positively correlated with birth weight, thereby identifying methylation as a potential mechanism by which phthalates impact fetal development. Finally, the authors speculate that phthalates may induce oxidative stress, which impedes normal methylation, including methylation at CpG sites. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 56:286-292, 2015. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.