The role of the RAS in programming of adult hypertension

Acta Physiol Scand. 2004 Aug;181(4):537-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-201X.2004.01328.x.


The aetiology of cardiovascular disease originally included two components: a genetic component and an environmental or lifestyle component. Increasing epidemiologic evidence has been accumulating during the last decades indicating the importance of a third component: the influence of the environment during foetal development. Poor living conditions resulted in a high infant mortality and influenced the incidence of cardiovascular diseases in adulthood despite better living conditions (A. Forsdahl. Br J Prev Soc Med 1977; 31, 91-95). An association between pre-natal growth pattern and the rate of death from cardiovascular disease in adulthood was reported (D.J. Barker, P.D. Winter, C. Osmond, B. Margetts & S.J. Simmonds. Lancet 1989; 2, 577-580). Men from Hartfordshire (UK), born between 1911 and 1930 were investigated. The investigations showed that men with the lowest weight at birth and at 1 year of age had the highest risks of death from cardiovascular disease (D.J. Barker, P.D. Winter, C. Osmond, B. Margetts & S.J. Simmonds. Lancet 1989; 2, 577-580). These findings suggested that factors in the perinatal environment could programme an individual for later risk of development of cardiovascular disease compared with someone born with a normal weight. Numerous studies have since confirmed these initial findings of an inverse relationship between early growth pattern and cardiovascular disease in adulthood.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology
  • Growth Substances / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / embryology*
  • Kidney / embryology
  • Renin-Angiotensin System / physiology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Growth Substances