Maternal and paternal periconceptional nutrition as an indicator of offspring metabolic syndrome risk in later life through epigenetic imprinting: A systematic review

Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2017 Dec;11 Suppl 2:S655-S662. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2017.04.021. Epub 2017 May 10.


Aims: This review examined whether maternal and paternal periconceptional nutrition effects an offspring's likelihood of developing chronic metabolic related conditions due to epigenetic imprinting.

Methods: A literature search was conducted in multiple science databases and limited to studies published after 2012, in English language and peer reviewed. The data from selected articles were extracted and a qualitative approach was employed due to heterogeneity of results.

Results: Newborns from obese fathers showed altered methylation overall and significant hypomethylation at the Insulin-like Growth Factor 2 (IGF2) gene. High maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) was associated with altered offspring DNA methylation levels and gestational diabetes mellitus induced significantly increased methylation levels in offspring. Gestational weight gain was not associated with differentially methylated cord blood. Birth weight was higher in offspring exposed to famine in early gestation. Offspring born post maternal bariatric surgery showed a lower percentage of body fat and improved fasting insulin levels compared to siblings born pre-maternal bariatric surgery.

Conclusions: The available evidence suggests that poor maternal and paternal periconceptional nutrition can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome in offspring, through epigenetic imprinting. Potential parents should be advised that maintaining a healthy diet and BMI is likely to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome in offspring.

Keywords: Epigenetics; Metabolic syndrome; Methylation; Nutrition; Periconceptional.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Genomic Imprinting*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / genetics*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Paternal Inheritance / genetics*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors