Nutrition and growth during the perinatal period have long-term implications for neonates. The Developmental Origins of Disease Hypothesis states that molecular and cellular events initiated during this period have the potential to impart lifelong phenotypic changes to infants. Undernutrition resulting in intra- or extrauterine growth restriction is associated with an increased risk of neurodevelopmental impairment and lung disease as well as adult-onset diseases, including obesity, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease. A proposed molecular mechanism by which early events alter later health is epigenetic modifications to chromatin. One well-studied epigenetic modifier is nutrition. Much of the current evidence associating early nutritional status to epigenetic adaptations stems from animal models. This review summarizes known associations between perinatal nutrition and epigenetic alterations to chromatin. Much work remains in the field to identify how associated histone and DNA modifications contribute to changes in gene expression. It also is important to determine why a particular gene is targeted in the first place. Detailed understanding of these aspects of perinatal nutrition and epigenetics should allow development of specific, targeted interventions.
Perinatal Nutrition, Epigenetics, and Disease
Drs Joss-Moore and Lane have disclosed no financial relationships relevant to this article. This commentary does not contain a discussion of an unapproved/investigative use of a commercial product/device.
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Lisa A. Joss-Moore, Robert H. Lane; Perinatal Nutrition, Epigenetics, and Disease. Neoreviews September 2011; 12 (9): e498–e505. https://doi.org/10.1542/neo.12-9-e498
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