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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Critical Experiments to Determine If Early Nutritional Influences on Epigenetic Mechanisms Cause Metabolic Imprinting in Humans

Author
item Waterland, Robert

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: August 14, 2004
Publication Date: June 20, 2005
Citation: Waterland, R.A. 2005. Critical experiments to determine if early nutritional influences on epigenetic mechanisms cause metabolic imprinting in humans. In:Wintour-Coghlan, E.M., Owens, J., editors. Early Life Origins of Health and Disease. Kluwer Academic Publishers. p. 1-8.

Interpretive Summary: Metabolic imprinting occurs when nutritional influences during critical periods of development cause specific metabolic adaptations that persist to adulthood. Epigenetic mechanisms, which regulate the broad diversity of tissues-specific gene expression, are established during development and largely maintained throughout adulthood. This article surveys the growing body of evidence that aberrant epigenetic gene regulation plays an important role in human disease, and recent data from animal models showing that subtle environmental influences during specific developmental periods can cause stable alterations in mammalian epigenotype. Experimental approaches are suggested to focus future studies of prenatal and early postnatal nutritional influences on developmental epigenetics in humans.

Technical Abstract: Metabolic imprinting occurs when nutritional influences during critical periods of development cause specific metabolic adaptations that persist to adulthood. Epigenetic mechanisms, which regulate the broad diversity of tissue-specific gene expression, are established during development and largely maintained throughout adulthood. Hence, to the extent that nutrition during development affects the establishment of epigenetic gene regulatory mechanisms, metabolic imprinting could occur via this mechanism. This article surveys the growing body of evidence that aberrant epigenetic gene regulation plays an important role in human disease, and recent data from animal models showing that subtle environmental influences during specific ontogenic periods can cause stable alterations in mammalian epigenotype. Experimental approaches are suggested to focus future studies of prenatal and early postnatal nutritional influences on developmental epigenetics in humans.

Last Modified: 7/31/2014