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Prenatal Drug Linked to Impaired Uterine Development

In utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol associated with gene hypermethylation

THURSDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), which is associated with defects in the development of the female reproductive tract, is associated with hypermethylation of a gene that controls uterine development, according to study findings published online March 19 in Endocrinology.

To determine how DES induces developmental defects in the female reproductive tract, Jason G. Bromer, M.D., from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues analyzed the expression and methylation pattern of the HOXA10 gene, which controls uterine organogenesis, in mice after in utero exposure to DES.

The researchers found that Hoxa10 expression was reduced and shifted caudally after in utero DES exposure. The gene was also hypermethylated at promoters and introns in the caudal portion of the uterus, and the expression of two DNA methyltransferases were increased.

"Thus, DNA methylation is a novel mechanism by which endocrine disruptors may regulate developmental programming," Bromer and colleagues conclude.

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