Intergenerational transmission of programmed effects: public health consequences

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Apr;21(4):206-13. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2009.11.006. Epub 2009 Dec 11.


Epidemiological studies have shown that the environment experienced in early life can 'programme' susceptibility to later disease. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that these effects can be transmissible to subsequent generations through non-genomic mechanisms, with profound implications for human populations. Several mechanisms can underpin the intergenerational transmission of the programmed phenotype, including persistence of the abnormal environment across generations, maternal effects and the transmission of epigenetic information through the germline. In this review, we discuss the evidence for these mechanisms in human and animal studies and the potential importance of this field for human health.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • Disease Susceptibility*
  • Environment
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Phenotype
  • Pregnancy
  • Public Health*