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The mammalian preimplantation embryo: Its role in the environmental programming of postnatal health and performance

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Miguel Velazquez, Abdullah Idriss



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023 Elsevier B.V. During formation of the preimplantation embryo several cellular and molecular milestones take place, making the few cells forming the early embryo vulnerable to environmental stressors than can impair epigenetic reprogramming and controls of gene expression. Although these molecular alterations can result in embryonic death, a significant developmental plasticity is present in the preimplantation embryo that promotes full-term pregnancy. Prenatal epigenetic modifications are inherited during mitosis and can perpetuate specific phenotypes during early postnatal development and adulthood. As such, the preimplantation phase is a developmental window where developmental programming can take place in response to the embryonic microenvironment present in vivo or in vitro. In this review, the relevance of the preimplantation embryo as a developmental stage where offspring health and performance can be programmed is discussed, with emphasis on malnutrition and assisted reproductive technologies; two major environmental insults with important implications for livestock production and human reproductive medicine.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Velazquez MA, Idriss A, Chavatte-Palmer P, Fleming TP

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Animal Reproduction Science

Year: 2023

Volume: 256

Print publication date: 01/09/2023

Online publication date: 19/08/2023

Acceptance date: 17/08/2023

ISSN (print): 0378-4320

ISSN (electronic): 1873-2232

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.anireprosci.2023.107321

ePrints DOI: 10.57711/ekya-w450