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Maternal obesity and programming of the early embryo

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Miguel Velazquez


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Obesity is on the increase and becoming one of the biggest health concerns worldwide due to associated non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiometabolic dysfunction. Epidemiological and experimental evidence shows that obesity does not only impact on the individual but also on progeny across generations, implying contributing causal factors other than postnatal lifestyle. A wealth of studies have confirmed that maternal obesity is linked to offspring BMI and non-communicable diseases in later life through developmental programming in utero. This is mediated by developmental plasticity whereby the developing organism adapts to prevailing conditions. Developmental plasticity and its consequences are detectable as early as preimplantation, before the mother is aware of her pregnancy. Significantly, embryo transfer and developmental studies indicate the adult non-communicable disease phenotype can be traced back to the periconception period with poorer quality oocytes and embryos. Here, we give an overview of our current understanding of mechanisms involved linking preimplantation embryo morphogenesis and metabolism through to gene expression and epigenetic regulation in response to adverse environments such as obesity. Potential upstream mediators such as embryonic environmental sensors and maternal inducers are considered, including the impact of the reproductive tract at the maternal–embryonic interphase at a time preceding the formation of a functional placenta.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Eckert JJ, Velazquez MA, Fleming TP

Editor(s): Lucy R, Green; Robert L. Hester

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Parental Obesity: Intergenerational Programming and Consequences

Year: 2016

Pages: 81-103

Online publication date: 01/11/2016

Acceptance date: 01/06/2016

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-6386-7_5

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781493963867