Early-life lead exposure results in dose- and sex-specific effects on weight and epigenetic gene regulation in weanling mice

Christopher Faulk, Amanda Barks, Kevin Liu, Jaclyn M. Goodrich, Dana C. Dolinoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Aims: Epidemiological and animal data suggest that the development of adult chronic conditions is influenced by early-life exposure-induced changes to the epigenome. This study investigates the effects of perinatal lead (Pb) exposure on DNA methylation and bodyweight in weanling mice. Materials & methods: Viable yellow agouti (Avy) mouse dams were exposed to 0, 2.1, 16 and 32 ppm Pb acetate before conception through weaning. Epigenetic effects were evaluated by scoring coat color of Avy/a offspring and quantitative bisulfite sequencing of two retrotransposon-driven (Avy and CDK5 activator-binding protein intracisternal A particle element) and two imprinted (Igf2 and Igf2r) loci in tail DNA. Results: Maternal blood Pb levels were below the limit of detection in controls, and 4.1, 25.1 and 32.1 μg/dl for each dose, respectively. Pb exposure was associated with a trend of increased wean bodyweight in males (p = 0.03) and altered coat color in Avy/a offspring. DNA methylation at Avy and the CDK5 activator-binding protein intracisternal A-particle element was significantly different from controls following a cubic trend (p = 0.04; p = 0.01), with male-specific effects at the Avy locus. Imprinted genes did not shift in methylation across exposures. Conclusion: Dose- and sex-specific responses in bodyweight and DNA methylation indicate that Pb acts on the epigenome in a locus-specific fashion, dependent on the genomic feature hosting the CpG site of interest, and that sex is a factor in epigenetic response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-500
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • DNA methylation
  • developmental origins of health and disease
  • environmental epigenomics
  • epigenetics
  • lead
  • metastable epiallele
  • plasticity
  • viable yellow agouti


Dive into the research topics of 'Early-life lead exposure results in dose- and sex-specific effects on weight and epigenetic gene regulation in weanling mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this