Transgenerational and intergenerational epigenetic inheritance in allergic diseases


It has become clear that early life (including in utero exposures) is a key window of vulnerability during which environmental exposures can alter developmental trajectories and initiate allergic disease development. However, recent evidence suggests that there might be additional windows of vulnerability to environmental exposures in the parental generation before conception or even in previous generations. There is evidence suggesting that information of prior exposures can be transferred across generations, and experimental animal models suggest that such transmission can be conveyed through epigenetic mechanisms. Although the molecular mechanisms of intergenerational and transgenerationational epigenetic transmission have yet to be determined, the realization that environment before conception can alter the risks of allergic diseases has profound implications for the development of public health interventions to prevent disease. Future research in both experimental models and in multigenerational human cohorts is needed to better understand the role of intergenerational and transgenerational effects in patients with asthma and allergic disease. This will provide the knowledge basis for a new approach to efficient intervention strategies aimed at reducing the major public health challenge of these conditions.

Publication Title

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology