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Toxic Exposure Adds More Stress to Great Grandkids

Update Date: Aug 25, 2014 11:28 PM EDT
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Great granddaughters of individuals exposed to toxic substances are more likely to experience adverse reactions to stress, according to a new study.

The latest study showed that male and female rats are influenced differently by ancestral exposure to vinclozolin, a common fungicide used by farmers to treat fruits and vegetables.

Researchers found that female rats whose great grandparents were exposed to vinclozolin were significantly more stressed and preferred the company of novel females compared to familiar ones.

However, males in the same situations did not have the same negative effects, according to researchers.

"These results should concern us all because we have been exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals for decades and we all go through natural challenges in life," lead researcher David Crews, the Ashbel Smith Professor of Zoology and Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin, said in a news release. "Those challenges are now being perceived differently because of this ancestral exposure to environmental contamination."

While ancestral exposure to vinclozolin alone or stress during the animal's adolescence alone had negligible effects on the rats' hormonal balance and behavior, the latest study revealed that the combination of ancestral exposure and stress caused the female rats to have dramatically higher levels of corticosterone (a stress hormone similar to cortisol in humans), higher expression of genes associated with anxiety and more stressful behaviors.

The findings were published July 22 online in the journal Endocrinology.

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