In Utero Dioxin Exposure Effects May Differ by Gender

By Reuters Staff

February 08, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Prenatal dioxin exposure may have gender-specific effects on cardiometabolic risk, a new study suggests.

Higher dioxin exposure was inversely linked to adiposity in females only, and increased risk of metabolic syndrome (MetS) in males only, Dr. Marcella Warner of the University of California at Berkeley and colleagues found.

"These results are generally consistent with effects of in utero TCDD (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin) exposure that have been noted in animal studies and with greater sensitivity to TCDD during development," Dr. Warner and colleagues write in the International Journal of Obesity, online January 18. "Continued follow-up of this unique cohort as it ages will be informative."

The team looked at offspring of mothers exposed to TCDD by a chemical plant explosion in Seveso, Italy, in 1976. The Seveso Second Generation Study included 611 offspring, 431 if whom were 18 or older.

Maternal TCDD concentration was measured soon after the explosion, or estimated at pregnancy.

A 10-fold rise in a mother's TCDD concentration was significantly associated with lower BMI in daughters, but not sons. By contrast, increasing maternal TCDD was positively associated with metabolic syndrome in sons, but not daughters (adjusted relative risk, 2.09).

Maternal TCDD exposure was also linked to numerically higher risks of high blood pressure and low HDL-cholesterol levels in male offspring, as opposed to numerically lower risks in females, although the interaction with sex did not reach statistical significance.

"These results suggest prenatal TCDD exposure alters cardiometabolic endpoints in a sex-specific manner," the authors conclude.

Dr. Warner was not available for an interview by press time.


Int J Obes 2019.