Hypospadias, the most common genital malformation in male babies is due to environmental factors, such as toxicant exposure, which alter epigenetic programming in a forming penis, stated a new study.
Conversely, epigenetic alternations were not found in penile tissue samples taken from the foreskin of healthy babies without hypospadias, according to the Washington State University-led analysis.
“Previous researchers have done extensive analyses and not found any kind of genetic DNA sequence mutations that correlate with the presence of the disease, so there has always been a big question mark regarding where it comes from,” said Michael Skinner, corresponding senior author of the study and a WSU professor of biology. “Our study shows the etiology of the disease is environmentally driven through epigenetics rather than a result of changes to the DNA sequence. It gives us a clearer picture of what is going on.”