DNA methylation in epigenetic inheritance of metabolic diseases through the male germ line

    1. Anders Lade Nielsen1
    1. 1Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
    2. 2Department of Clinical Medicine, Endocrinology and Diabetes, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark
    1. Correspondence should be addressed to A L Nielsen: aln{at}biomed.au.dk


    The global rise in metabolic diseases can be attributed to a complex interplay between biology, behavior and environmental factors. This article reviews the current literature concerning DNA methylation-based epigenetic inheritance (intergenerational and transgenerational) of metabolic diseases through the male germ line. Included are a presentation of the basic principles for DNA methylation in developmental programming, and a description of windows of susceptibility for the inheritance of environmentally induced aberrations in DNA methylation and their associated metabolic disease phenotypes. To this end, escapees, genomic regions with the intrinsic potential to transmit acquired paternal epigenetic information across generations by escaping the extensive programmed DNA demethylation that occurs during gametogenesis and in the zygote, are described. The ongoing descriptive and functional examinations of DNA methylation in the relevant biological samples, in conjugation with analyses of non-coding RNA and histone modifications, hold promise for improved delineation of the effect size and mechanistic background for epigenetic inheritance of metabolic diseases.

    • Received 28 November 2017
    • Accepted 4 December 2017
    • Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 4 December 2017
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