Fetal Programming of Adult Disease in a Translational Point of View

  • Francesca MastorciEmail author
  • Jacopo Agrimi


Prenatal development constitutes a critical time for shaping adult behavior, setting the basis for vulnerability or protection to disease in adulthood. According to a translational perspective, a wealth of information from human and animal studies has revealed that exposure to adverse conditions during fetal period may have a great impact on health not only in infancy and childhood but also in later life. Indeed, hostile intrauterine life can result in a series of coordinated biological responses aimed at enhancing the probability of survival or increasing risk and susceptibility of chronic degenerative disease. Regardless of the type stimulus, the nature and severity of the long-term effects due to fetal environment seem to be influenced by the timing of insults during gestation, because prenatal development is characterized by sensitive time windows in which organisms are more or less vulnerable to critical events. In this chapter, we explore the fetal origin hypothesis of adult chronic degenerative disease, from a translational point of view, according to the theories of the twentieth century and of the possible mechanisms involved in these long-term physiological/behavioral alterations.


Fetal programming Chronic degenerative disease Prenatal stress Epigenetics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Physiology Institute, CNRPisaItaly
  2. 2.Division of CardiologyJohns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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