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The model beetle Tribolium castaneum can be used as an early warning system for transgenerational epigenetic side effects caused by pharmaceuticals

: Bingsohn, L.; Knorr, E.; Vilcinskas, A.


Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology 185-186 (2016), S.57-64
ISSN: 1532-0456
ISSN: 0742-8413
ISSN: 0306-4492
Fraunhofer IME ()

Pharmaceuticals are not currently tested for transgenerational and epigenetic side effects. The use of vertebrates as preclinical research models is limited by their long generation times, low numbers of progeny and ethical concerns. In contrast, invertebrates such as insects breed rapidly, produce many offspring and are more ethically acceptable, allowing them to be used for high-throughput screening. Here, we established Tribolium castaneum as a model to screen for the effect of drugs on complex fitness parameters and the expression of epigenetic regulatory genes. We tested diets supplemented with the psychoactive drug valproic acid (VPA), which is a histone deacetylase inhibitor, or the antioxidant curcumin, which is a histone acetyltransferase inhibitor. We found that VPA delayed development, reduced longevity, and increased female body weight compared to a control diet. Fertility and fecundity declined and the expression of epigenetic regulatory genes was induced in the untreated F1 generation.