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How dad’s stress changes his sperm

RNA-packed vesicles that glom on to the germ cells can be altered by a stress hormone, a mouse study suggests

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3:30pm, November 15, 2017
sperm

NOT BUNDLES OF JOY  Stress may change the genetic contents of sperm by tweaking small packets of RNA in seminal fluid, a study in mice suggests.

Sperm from stressed-out dads can carry that stress from one generation to another. “But one question that really hasn’t been addressed is, ‘How do dad’s experiences actually change his germ cell?’” Jennifer Chan, a neuroendocrinologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said November 13 in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Now, from a study in mice, Chan and her colleagues have some answers, and even hints at ways to stop this stress inheritance.

The researchers focused on the part of the male reproductive tract called the caput epididymis, a place where sperm cells mature. Getting rid of a stress-hormone sensor there called the glucocorticoid receptor stopped the transmission of stress, the researchers found. When faced with an alarming predator odor, offspring of chronically stressed mice dads

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