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Neurotox Res. 2010 Nov;18(3-4):386-92. doi: 10.1007/s12640-010-9169-z. Epub 2010 Mar 23.

Epigenetically regulated imprinted genes and foetal programming.

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Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour, University of Cambridge, Madingley, Cambridge, CB23 8AA, UK.


Genomic imprinting is a widespread epigenetic phenomenon in mammals and many imprinted genes are expressed in the developing hypothalamus and placenta. The placenta and brain are very different structures with very different roles, but in the pregnant mother they functionally interact coordinating and ensuring the provision of nutrients, timing of parturition and priming of hypothalamus for maternal care and nurturing. This interaction has been evolutionarily fine-tuned to optimise infant survival such that when resources are poor, the mother 'informs' this condition to the foetus producing a thrifty phenotype that is adapted to survive scarce resources after birth.

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