Nutrition, DNA Methylation, and Developmental Origins of Cardiometabolic Disease: A Signal Systems Approach

  • Zachary M. Laubach
  • Christopher D. Faulk
  • Andres Cardenas
  • Wei PerngEmail author
Reference work entry


The developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) hypothesis posits that environmental exposures during vulnerable developmental stages have a lasting impact on adult phenotype. Early life nutrition is recognized as a key determinant of long-term health, and epigenetic mechanisms have surfaced as a potential biological mechanism. This review first provides an overview of literature regarding epigenetically mediated DOHaD phenomena within the realm of cardiometabolic disease. Next, parallels are drawn between a signal system and epigenetic programming in DOHaD; specifically, with DNA methylation acting as a signal within an individual spanning from early to later life. Finally, epigenetically mediated DOHaD phenomena are explored using life course epidemiology and a signal system framework to identify potential sources of error, and make suggestions for appropriate study designs and analytical strategies.


Signal System Epigenetics DNA Methylation Nutrition Drift DOHaD Metabolic Risk 

List of Abbreviations


Bisphenol A




Directed acyclic graph


DNA methyltransferase


Developmental origins of health and disease


Empirical Best Linear Unbiased Predictor


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zachary M. Laubach
    • 1
  • Christopher D. Faulk
    • 2
  • Andres Cardenas
    • 3
  • Wei Perng
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Integrative Biology and Program in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and BehaviorMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of Animal SciencesUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  3. 3.Department of Population MedicineHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Nutritional Sciences, Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of Michigan School of Public HealthAnn ArborUSA

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