Epigenetic effects of the pregnancy Mediterranean diet adherence on the offspring metabolic syndrome markers

J Physiol Biochem. 2017 Nov;73(4):495-510. doi: 10.1007/s13105-017-0592-y. Epub 2017 Sep 18.


Metabolic syndrome (MS) has a multifactorial and not yet fully clarified origin. Insulin resistance is a key element that connects all the accepted components of MS (obesity, dyslipemia, high blood pressure, and hyperglycemia). There is strong evidence that epigenetic changes during fetal development are key factors in the development of MS. These changes are induced by maternal nutrition, among different factors, affecting the intrauterine environment. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be a healthy eating pattern that protects against the development of MS in adults. Similarly, the Mediterranean diet could have a similar action during pregnancy, protecting the fetus against the development of MS throughout life. This review assembles studies carried out, both in animals and humans, on the epigenetic modifications associated with the consumption, during pregnancy, of Mediterranean diet main components. The relationship between these modifications and the occurrence of factors involved in development of MS is also explained. In addition, the results of our group relating adherence to the Mediterranean diet with MS markers are discussed. The paper ends suggesting future actuation lines in order to increase knowledge on Mediterranean diet adherence as a prevention tool of MS development.

Keywords: Dyslipemia; Epigenetics; Fetal development; Hyperglycemia; Hypertension; Insulin resistance; Mediterranean diet adherence; Metabolic syndrome; Obesity; Pregnancy diet.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Pregnancy


  • Biomarkers