Epigenetic control of fetal gene expression

BJOG. 2008 Jan;115(2):158-68. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01528.x. Epub 2007 Oct 25.


Each differentiated cell type has its own epigenetic signature, which reflects its genotype, developmental history, and environmental influences, and is ultimately reflected in the phenotype of the cell and organism. Some cells undergo major epigenetic 'reprogramming' during fetal development. The proper, or improper, handling of these highly sensitive periods may have significant short-term and long-term effects on the newborn and his/her progeny. This review highlights the impact of environmental and nutritional factors on the epigenome and the potential effect of epigenetic dysregulation on maternal and fetal pregnancy outcomes, as well as possible long-term implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics*
  • Female
  • Fertilization / genetics
  • Fetal Development / genetics*
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Gene Expression / genetics*
  • Genomic Imprinting / genetics
  • Human Development / physiology
  • Humans
  • Placenta / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy Outcome


  • Chromatin
  • Folic Acid