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Epigenetic Effects of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers on Human Health


Disruption of epigenetic regulation by environmental toxins is an emerging point of focus for understanding the latter’s impact on human health. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), one such toxin, are an environmentally pervasive class of brominated flame retardants that have been extensively used as coatings on a wide range of consumer products. Their environmental stability, propensity for bioaccumulation, and known links to adverse health effects have evoked extensive research to characterize underlying biological mechanisms of toxicity. Of particular concern is the growing body of evidence correlating human exposure levels to behavioral deficits related to neurodevelopmental disorders. The developing nervous system is particularly sensitive to influence by environmental signals, including dysregulation by toxins. Several major modes of actions have been identified, but a clear understanding of how observed effects relate to negative impacts on human health has not been established. Here we review the growing body of evidence for epigenetic disruptions induced by PBDEs, including DNA methylation, chromatin dynamics, and non-coding RNA expression while discussing potential relationship between PBDEs and neurodevelopmental disorders.

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