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Wildfires are now a common feature of the western US, increasing in both intensity and number of acres burned over the last three decades. The effects of this changing wildfire and smoke landscape are a critical public and occupational health issue. While respiratory morbidity due to smoke exposure is a priority, evaluating the molecular underpinnings that explain recent extrapulmonary observations is necessary. Here, we use an Apoe−/− mouse model to investigate the epigenetic impact of paternal exposure to simulated wildfire smoke. We demonstrate that 40 days of exposure to smoke from Douglas fir needles induces sperm DNA methylation changes in adult mice. DNA methylation was measured by reduced representation bisulfite sequencing and varied significantly in 3353 differentially methylated regions, which were subsequently annotated to 2117 genes. The differentially methylated regions were broadly distributed across the mouse genome, but the vast majority (nearly 80%) were hypermethylated. Pathway analyses, using gene-derived and differentially methylated region-derived gene ontology terms, point to a number of developmental processes that may warrant future investigation. Overall, this study of simulated wildfire smoke exposure suggests paternal reproductive risks are possible with prolonged exposure.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.