The traditional view that gene and environment interactions control disease susceptibility can now be expanded to include epigenetic reprogramming as a key determinant of origins of human disease. Epigenetic reprogramming is the process by which an organism’s genotype interacts with the environment to produce its phenotype and provides a framework for explaining individual variations and the uniqueness of cells, tissues, or organs despite identical genetic information. The rapid introduction of synthetic chemicals, medical interventions, environmental pollutants, and lifestyle choices, may result in conflict with the programmed adaptive changes made during early development, and explain the alarming increases in some diseases. The recent identification of a significant number of epigenetically regulated genes in various model systems has prepared the field to take on the challenge of characterizing distinct epigenomes related to various diseases. Improvements in human health could then be redirected from curative care to personalized, preventive medicine based, in part, on epigenetic markings etched in the “margins” of one’s genetic make-up. (

Transgenerational epidgenetic imprints on mate preference: Environmental contamination by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) can have epigenetic effects (by DNA methylation) on the germ line and promote disease across subsequent generations. In natural populations, both sexes (of rats) may encounter affected as well as unaffected individuals during the breeding season and any diminution in attractiveness could compromise reproductive success. Researchers examined mate preference in male and female rats whose progenitors had been treated with the antiandrogenic fungicide vinclozolin. The effect was found to be sex-specific: females three generations removed from the exposure discriminate and prefer males who do not have a history of exposure. (Similarly epigenetically imprinted males did not exhibit such a preference). The observations suggest that the consequences of EDCs are not just transgenerational but can be “transpopulational,” because in many mammalian species, males are the dispersing sex. (

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