Epigenetic Reprogramming in the Mammalian Germ Line: Possible Effects by Endocrine Disruptors on Primordial Germ Cells

Massimo De Felici*, Gina La Sala
Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, Section of Histology and Embryology, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Rome, Italy

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© De Felici and La Sala; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Dipartimento di Biomedicina e Prevenzione, Università di Roma "Tor Vergata", Via Montpellier, 1, 00133 Roma, Italy; Tel: 39-6-7259 6156; Fax: 39-6-7259 6172; E-mail:


The present work provides a brief review about evidence obtained in the past years mainly in our laboratory using the mouse model, that germ cells and gonadal somatic cells may be direct target of endocrine disruptors (EDs) from very early stages of gonad formation. Since it is now known that epigenetic pathways are crucial for germline development and that EDs are also able to interfere with epigenetic mechanisms, we will discuss these results mostly in light of possible effects by such molecules on the epigenoma of the primordial germ cells (PGCs), the precursors of the adult gametes that transmit genetic information between generations.

Keywords: Epigenetics, endocrine disruptors, primordial germ cells, xenoestrogens.