NTP assesses potential for transgenerational inheritance of health effects
National Toxicology Program (NTP) researchers developed an interactive evidence map as part of a literature review of transgenerational inheritance. Transgenerational inheritance refers to how exposure to a chemical agent or other stressor can result in adverse effects in later generations that were never directly exposed to the stressor. The systematic evidence map allows researchers to explore published literature by broad health effect categories, exposures, and the evidence stream to illustrate areas of consistency, uncertainty, data gaps, and research needs. Although more than 250 studies were mapped, the team identified relatively few bodies of evidence in which more than one study evaluated the same exposure and the same or similar outcomes.
A number of studies reported some evidence of potential reproductive, metabolic, or neurological transgenerational effects. However, the review found that risk of bias and heterogeneity in exposure presented limitations for drawing conclusions. To improve the usability of future studies, the authors strongly supported minimizing bias through best practices in study design and reporting. These practices include randomization of treatment, blinding of outcome assessors to study groups, and controlling for effects within a litter when evaluating potential transgenerational effects. (GK)
Citation: Walker VR, Boyles AL, Pelch KE, Holmgren SD, Shapiro AJ, Blystone CR, Devito MJ, Newbold RR, Blain R, Hartman P, Thayer KA, Rooney AA. 2018. Human and animal evidence of potential transgenerational inheritance of health effects: an evidence map and state-of-the-science evaluation. Environ Int 115:48−69.