Nutritional programming of insulin resistance: causes and consequences

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Oct;24(10):525-35. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2013.05.006. Epub 2013 Jun 18.


Strong evidence indicates that adverse prenatal and early postnatal environments have a significant long-term influence on risk factors that result in insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and cardiovascular disease later in life. Here we discuss current knowledge of how maternal and neonatal nutrition influence early growth and the long-term risk of developing insulin resistance in different organs and at the whole-body level. Accumulating evidence supports a role for epigenetic mechanisms underlying this nutritional programming, consisting of heritable changes that regulate gene expression which in turn shapes the phenotype across generations. Deciphering these molecular mechanisms in key tissues and discovering key biological markers may provide valuable insight towards the development of effective intervention strategies.

Keywords: epigenetics; insulin resistance; metabolic diseases; nutritional programming.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / genetics
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Risk Factors