Perinatal epigenetic determinants of cognitive and metabolic disorders Aging and Disease.Aging and Disease. December 2012. Lupo, DS, Tint D, Niculescu MD.
UNC Chaple Hill Nutrition Research Institute.
Multiple cues from the environment of our indirect and immediate ancestors, which often persist throughout the prenatal period and adulthood, are shaping our phenotypes through either direct, parent-to-child influences, or transgenerational inheritance. These effects are due to gene-environment interactions, which are intended to be a predictive tool and a mechanism of quick adaptation to the environment, as compared with genetic variations that are inherited over many generations. In certain circumstances the influences induced by the gene-environment interactions can have deleterious effects upon the health status, in the context of a radical change in the environment that does not fit with the predicted conditions, via epigenetic alterations. Conversely the best fit to the expected environment might have a delayed aging process and a longer life span. This review will touch upon the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DoHAD) concept, while discussing recent advances in the understanding of metabolic and cognitive disruptions, with a focus on epigenetic factors, their transgenerational effects, and the consequences they might have upon the onset of chronic disease and premature exitus.