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Bioessays. 2007 Feb;29(2):145-54.

Non-genomic transgenerational inheritance of disease risk.

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1
Liggins Institute and National Research Centre for Growth and Development, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Abstract

That there is a heritable or familial component of susceptibility to chronic non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease is well established, but there is increasing evidence that some elements of such heritability are transmitted non-genomically and that the processes whereby environmental influences act during early development to shape disease risk in later life can have effects beyond a single generation. Such heritability may operate through epigenetic mechanisms involving regulation of either imprinted or non-imprinted genes but also through broader mechanisms related to parental physiology or behaviour. We review evidence and potential mechanisms for non-genomic transgenerational inheritance of 'lifestyle' disease and propose that the 'developmental origins of disease' phenomenon is a maladaptive consequence of an ancestral mechanism of developmental plasticity that may have had adaptive value in the evolution of generalist species such as Homo sapiens.

PMID:
17226802
DOI:
10.1002/bies.20522
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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