Epigenetic programming of obesity and diabetes by in utero exposure to gestational diabetes mellitus

Nutr Rev. 2013 Oct;71 Suppl 1:S88-94. doi: 10.1111/nure.12057.


It is now well accepted that offspring exposed to maternal undernutrition, obesity, or gestational diabetes mellitus have an increased risk for chronic diseases later in life, supporting the theory of the early origins of chronic diseases. However, the molecular mechanisms through which the exposure to an altered in utero environment translates into the development of chronic diseases are not yet well understood. Recently reported promising results help to resolve this issue. They suggest that epigenetic modifications are a potential mechanism for fetal metabolic programming. This review provides an overview of the relationship between the exposure to an altered intrauterine environment and fetal metabolic programming, focusing on gestational diabetes mellitus and epigenetic variations at adipokine candidate genes.

Keywords: altered intrauterine environment; diabetes; epigenetic modifications; fetal metabolic programming; gestational diabetes; obesity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes, Gestational / genetics*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / physiopathology*
  • Epigenomics*
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena