Reproductive tract extracellular vesicles are sufficient to transmit intergenerational stress and program neurodevelopment

Healthy Lives


17:30 - 18:00

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a unique mode of intercellular communication capable of incredible specificity in transmitting signals involved in cellular function, including germ cell maturation. Spermatogenesis occurs in the testes, behind a protective barrier to ensure safeguarding of germline DNA from insults in the environment. Outside the testes and following DNA compaction, further sperm cell maturation occurs in the epididymis. Here, we report the novel ability of reproductive tract EVs to transmit information regarding stress in the paternal environment to sperm, ultimately altering fetal development. Using the artificial reproduction technique, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, we found that sperm incubated with EVs collected from stress-treated epididymal epithelial cells produced offspring with significant changes in neurodevelopment and adult stress reactivity. Proteomic and transcriptomic assessment of these secreted EVs showed dramatic changes in protein and miRNA content long after stress treatment had ended, supporting a lasting cellular programmatic change in response to chronic stress. Thus, EVs are a normal part of sperm maturation, and also perform additional roles in intergenerational transmission of paternal environmental experience.  

Jennifer Chan

Jennifer Chan

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Dr. Jennifer Chan received her PhD in pharm...