Tissue Specific Adaptations to Nutrient Supply: More than Just Epigenetics?

  • Michael E. Symonds
  • Terence Stephenson
  • David S. Gardner
  • Helen Budge
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 646)

Changes in the maternal diet either throughout pregnancy, or at defined stages therein, can have pronounced effects on organogenesis in conjunction with endocrine sensitivity. These processes can be brought about by either maternal consumption of an imbalanced diet and/or a global reduction in macro or micro-nutrient intake. The magnitude of adaptation in the fetus or offspring is dependent on which organ is most rapidly growing and developing at that particular stage of the life cycle. For a majority of organs, the period of developmental plasticity extends beyond the fetal period, continuing through lactation and into the juvenile period. During lactation, enhanced growth of the offspring appears to be a primary determinant of the magnitude of adverse cardiovascular outcome. Consequently, a change in organ development during pregnancy may not necessarily equate with compromised function in later life. In the kidney, for example, adaptations in its endocrine sensitivity to maternal nutrient restriction through fetal development can be protective against the adverse consequences of later obesity. Such adaptations do not simply represent epigenetic modifications but a plethora of responses that, taken together, can prevent, or delay, at least in the kidney, the onset of apoptosis and later glomerulosclerosis.


Blood pressure glucocorticoid receptor kidney obesity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael E. Symonds
    • 1
  • Terence Stephenson
    • 1
  • David S. Gardner
    • 1
  • Helen Budge
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Reproduction and Early Life, Institute of Clinical ResearchUniversity HospitalNottinghamUK

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