Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What causes certain mutagens to be teratogenic?

  1. Nov 24, 2011 #1
    Why are certain mutagens teratogenic, while others are not?

    Does it have to do with the areas that it affects in the body (i.e. Radioactive Iodine will go to the thyroid)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2011 #2
    I was under the impression that all mutagens were teratogenic, but not all teratogens are mutagens. Certainly, anything that can damage DNA could potentially cause birth defects. However, teratogens are more general than that and can induce physiological changes that lead to birth defects rather than mutating DNA directly.
  4. Nov 28, 2011 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    I was under the impression that teratogenics are agents that end up causing severe birth defects due to developmental abnormalities. This doesn't mean they're necessarily mutagens (as far as I'm aware), just that they interfere with developmental pathways.
  5. Nov 28, 2011 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Correct and correct. "Teratogen" would be the more broad set here than "mutagen".
  6. Nov 28, 2011 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    2017 Award

    There may also be some mutagens that don't act as teratogens because their mutagenic effects are very local and may not be easily passed to a fetus. For example, UV radiation is mutagenic but not teratogenic.
  7. Nov 29, 2011 #6
    I thought that teratogens caused problems only in developing foetuses and not in adults. So does this also include mutagens which do not do this by virtue of them not being in physical contact or not having direct interaction with the foetus?
  8. Nov 29, 2011 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    True, though UV could be teratogenic it is highly unlikely (I'm struggling to think of any reasonable situation where a UV torch would get anywhere near a uterus).
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: What causes certain mutagens to be teratogenic?
  1. What causes osmosis? (Replies: 4)