Maternal exposure and offspring health

Scientific theme

Environmental factors have been shown to play a crucial role in the development of various diseases like allergies, overweight/obesity or behaviour disorders. External factors such as chemicals, pathogens or stress may act as drivers of the individual’s risk to develop diseases and as triggers of underlying genetic predispositions. Recent findings indicate that in particular the prenatal and early postnatal period appears critical to environmental exposures, probably interfering with the developmental programming of the immune system or the physiological endocrine and metabolic signalling. Using cross- and transgenerational mouse models, if possible in a translational approach by combination with epidemiological data (Platform Cohorts) and additional in vitro or ex vivo cell culture models (Platform Cell Culture Models, Scientific Theme Nutritional Immunology), we want to explore the effects of early chemical exposures on disease development in later life and to characterize the underlying mechanisms. These findings may contribute to identify crucial disease risks and to develop new prevention strategies.


Research design: Findings from the prospective birth cohort studies were used to establish hypothesis driven approaches in human and mouse in vitro studies. Based on these results overall mechanistic analyses were addressed in the mouse in vivo settings.



PD Dr. Tobias Polte

Team members

Marita Wagner

Johanna Stucke

Theme-related publications

Buchenauer L, Haange S, Bauer M, Rolle-Kampczyk UE, Wagner M, Stucke J, Elter E, Fink B, Vass M, von Bergen M, Schulz A, Zenclussen AC, Junge KM, Stangl GI, Polte T (2023). Maternal exposure of mice to glyphosate induces depression- and anxiety-like behavior in the offspring via alterations of the gut-brain axis. Sci Total Environ. 905:167034.

Buchenauer L, Junge KM, Haange SB, Simon JC, von Bergen M, Hoh AL, Aust G, Zenclussen AC, Stangl GI, Polte T (2022). Glyphosate differentially affects allergic immune response across generations in mice. Sci Total Environ. 850:157973.

Junge KM*, Buchenauer L*, Strunz S*, Seiwert B*, Thürmann L, Rolle-Kampczyk UE, Röder S, Borte M, Kiess W, von Bergen M, Simon JC, Zenclussen AC, Schöneberg T, Stangl GI, Herberth G, Lehmann I, Reemtsma T, Polte T (2021). Effects of exposure to single and multiple parabens on asthma development. Sci Total Environ 152676.doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.152676.

Junge KM*, Buchenauer L*, Elter E*, Butter K*, Kohajda T, Herberth G, Röder S, Borte M, Kiess W, von Bergen M, Simon JC, Rolle-Kampczyk UE, Lehmann I, Gminski R, Ohlmeyer M, Polte T (2021).Wood emissions and asthma development: Results from an experimental mouse model and a prospective cohort study. Environ Int 151:106449.

Leppert B, Strunz S, Seiwert B, Schlittenbauer L, Schlichting R, Pfeiffer C, Röder S, Bauer M, Borte M, Stangl GI, Schöneberg T, Schulz A, Karkossa I, Rolle-Kampczyk UE, Thürmann L, von Bergen M, Escher BI, Junge KM, Reemtsma T, Lehmann I, Polte T (2020). Maternal paraben exposure triggers childhood overweight development. Nat. Commun 11, art. 561.

Elter E, Wagner M, Buchenauer L, Bauer M, Polte T (2020). Phthalate exposure during the prenatal and lactational period increases the susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis in mice. Front Immunol 11:550.

Junge KM*, Leppert B*, Jahreis S, Wissenbach DK, Feltens R, Grützmann K, Thürmann L, Bauer T, Ishaque N, Schick M, Bewerunge-Hudler M, Röder S, Bauer M, Schulz A, Borte M, Landgraf K, Körner A, Kiess W, von Bergen M, Stangl GI, Trump S*, Eils R*, Polte T*, Lehmann I* (2018). MEST mediates the impact of prenatal bisphenol A exposure on long-term body weight development. Clinical Epigenetics 10: 58.

Jahreis S, Trump S, Bauer M, Bauer T, Thürmann L, Feltens R, Wang Q, Gu L, Grützmann K, Röder S, Averbeck M, Weichenhan D, Plass C, Sack U, Borte M, Dubourg V, Schüürmann G, Simon JC, von Bergen M, Hackermüller J, Eils R, Lehmann I, Polte T (2017). Maternal phthalate exposure promotes allergic airway inflammation over two generations via epigenetic modifications. J Allergy Clin Immunol 141(2):741-753.

Reiprich M, Rudzok S, Schütze N, Simon JC, Lehmann I, Trump S, Polte T (2013). Inhibition of endotoxin-induced perinatal asthma protection by pollutants in an experimental mouse model. Allergy 68: 481-489.

*shared authorship

Projects supported by third-party funds

Third-party donor Project Coordinator
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Role of CD97/ADGRE5 in allergic asthma PD Dr. Tobias Polte