In the 1980s, D. Barker and his team proposed the hypothesis of a fetal origin of adult diseases. The concept subsequently evolved into the developmental origins of health and diseases. Progresses in various domains such as social epidemiology, neuroscience, toxicology have contributed to establish the early years of life as a key period for future health. Finally, epigenetics has provided biological plausibility to long-term programming of health by early exposures. The convergence of all these currents has led to conceptualize human health in a complex and dynamic continuum, the Lifecourse Health Development, beginning in the prenatal period and covering the whole life. Many animal models have been developed to try to unravel the mechanisms involved. Their contributions are described in this paper with the example of type 2 diabetes.
© 2016 médecine/sciences – Inserm.