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Trends Mol Med. 2007 Oct;13(10):414-21. Epub 2007 Sep 27.

Does the fetal genotype affect maternal physiology during pregnancy?

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK.


Conventional wisdom states that associations between fetal growth and diseases in pregnancy, such as pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) and gestational diabetes (GDM), result from effects of the mother's genotype or environment acting on her physiology which subsequently affect the fetus. However, recent evidence from human mothers carrying macrosomic offspring with Beckwith Wiedemann syndrome and pregnant mice carrying p57(kip2)-null offspring suggest that variation in the fetal genome can modify maternal physiology to increase fetal nutrient delivery and optimise growth. These are some of the first documented examples of such effects, whereby the genome of one individual directly affects the physiology of another related individual from the same species. We propose that this mechanism is involved in the aetiology of PIH and GDM.

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